Page 1

Film reviews Contents:

Film reviews Contents: Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, Sigmund Meiler 1925) Karl XII (John W. Brunius, Gösta Ekman 1925) Fänrik Ståls sägner (John W. Brunius, Edvin Adolphson 1926) The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, Emil Jannings 1928) The River (Frank Borzage 1928) Lonesome (Paul Fejos, (Pàl Fejös)Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon 1928) Applause (Rouben Mamoulian 1929) Murder! (Alfred Hitchcock, Herbert Marshall 1930) The Yellow Ticket (Raoul Walsh, Elissa Landi, Laurence Olivier, Lionel Barrymore 1931) Les croix de bois (Raymond Bernard 1932) Rain (Lewis Milestone, Joan Crawford 1932) Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, Marlene Dietrich 1932) Die verkaufte Braut (Max Ophüls 1932) Number Seventeen (Alfred Hitchcock 1932) The Blood of a Poet (Jean Cocteau 1932) Turn Back the Clock (Edgar Selwyn, Ben Hecht 1933) Berkeley Square (Frank Lloyd, Leslie Howard 1933) To the Last Man (Henry Hathaway, Randolph Scott, Esther Ralston 1933) The Private Life of Don Juan (Alexander Korda, Douglas Fairbanks 1934) The Thin Man (W.S.Van Dyke, Dick Powell, Myrna Loy 1934) The Painted Veil (Richard Boleslawski, Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall 1934) British Agent (Michael Curtiz, Leslie Howard, Kay Francis, Cesar Romero 1934) Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, Carole Lombard, John Barrymore 1934) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Max Reinhardt, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney 1935) Les Misérables (Richard Boleslawski 1935) Roberta (William A. Seiter, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers 1935) Divine (Max Ophüls 1935) The Informer (John Ford, Victor McLaglen 1935) Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian 1935) The Break of Hearts (Philip Moeller, Charles Boyer, Katharine Hepburn 1935)

1


The Phanotm Light (Michael Powell, Gordon Harker 1935) The Scoundrel (Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur, Noel Coward, Julie Haydon 1935) The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Stuart Walker, Claude Rains 1935) Captain Blood (Michael Curtiz, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone 1935) Un grand amour de Beethoven (Abel Gance 1936) The Black Legion (Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz, Humphrey Bogart 1936) Swing Time (George Stevens, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers 1936) Beloved Enemy (H.C.Potter, Brian Aherne, Merle Oberon, David Niven 1936) Lloyd’s of London (Henry King, Tyrone Power, George Sanders, Madeleine Carroll 1936) The Good Earth (Sidney Franklin, Victor Fleming, Paul Muni 1937) Fire Over England (William K. Howard, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, 1937) Elephant Boy (Robert J. Flaherty, Zoltan Korda 1937) Under Two Flags (Frank Lloyd, Claudette Colbert, Ronald Colman 1937) History is Made at Night (Frank Borzage, Charles Boyer, Jean Arthur 1937) The Life of Emile Zola (William Dieterle, Paul Muni 1937) A Damsel in Distress (George Stevens, Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine 1937) Angel (Ernst Lubitsch, Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Melvyn Douglas 1937) La grande illusion (Jean Renoir, Erich von Stroheim, Pierre Fresnay, Jean Gabin 1937) Nothing Sacred (William Wellman, Carole Lombard, Fredric March 1937) Le roman de Werther (Max Ophßls 1938) We Are Not Alone (Edmund Goulding, Paul Muni, Jane Bryan, Flora Robson 1938) Algiers (John Cromwell, Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr 1938) The Citadel (King Vidor, Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Richardson 1938) Shadows over Shanghai (Charles Lamont, James Dunn, Ralph Morgan 1938) Stanley and Livingstone (Henry King, Spencer Tracy, Cecil Hardwicke 1939) Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth 1939) Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart 1939) Eternally Yours (Tay Garnett, David Niven, Loretta Young 1939) The Rains Came (Clarence Brown, George Brent, Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power 1939) They Made Me a Criminal (Busby Berkeley, John Garfield, Claude Rains 1939) French Without Tears (Anthony Asquith, Ray Milland, Elen Drew, Roland Culver 1939) Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage 1940) Beyond Tomorrow (A. Edward Sutherland, Maria Ouspenskaya 1940) The Long Voyage Home (John Ford 1940) The House of the Seven Gables (Joe May, Vincent Price, George Sanders, Margaret Lindsay 1940) Johnny Apollo (Henry Hathaway, Tyrone Power, Edward Arnold, Dorothy Lamour 1940) Angels Over Broadway (Ben Hecht, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell 1940) The Case of the Frightened Lady (George King, Edgar Wallace, Marius Goring, Felix Aylmer, Helen Haye 1940) Victory (John Cromwell, Frederic March, Cedric Hardwicke, Betty Field 1940) Spies of the Air (David MacDonald, David Lean, Roger Livesey 1940) A Window in London (Herbert Mason, Michael Redgrave, Sally Field, Paul Lukas 1940) Arise, My Love (Mitchell Leisen, Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland, Walter Abel 1940) The Son of Monte Christo (Rowland V. Lee, Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, George Sanders 1940) Pastor Hall (Roy Boulting, Wilfrid Lawson, Nova Pilbeam, Marius Goring, Bernard Miles 1940) The Man I Married (Irving Pichel, Joan Bennett, Lloyd Nolan, Francis Lederer 1940)

2


No, No, Nanette (Herbert Wilcox, Anna Neagle, Roland Young, Victor Mature, Richard Carlson 1940) Lydia (Julien Duvivier, Merle Oberon 1941) The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda 1941) Cottage To Let (Anthony Asquith, John Mills, Alastair Sim, Leslie Banks 1941) Dangerous Moonlight (Brian Desmond Hurst, Anton Walbrook, Sally Grey 1941) I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone, Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Laird Cregar 1941) A Yank in the R.A.F. (Henry King, Tyrone Power, Betty Grable 1941) Sundown (Henry Hathaway, Gene Tierney, George Sanders 1941) Johnny Eager (Mervyn LeRoy, Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Van Heflin 1941) International Lady (Tim Whelan, George Brent, Basil Rathbone, Ilona Massey 1941) Kipps (Carol Reed, Michael Redgrave, Diana Wynyard, Phyllis Calvert 1941) 49th Parallel (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, Anton Walbrook, Raymond Massey 1941) Penny Serenade (George Stevens, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne 1941) Dangerously They Live (Robert Florey, John Garfileld, Raymond Massey 1941) Ladies in Retirement (Charles Vidor, Ida Lupino, Louis Howard, Elsa Lanchester 1941) Thunder Rock (Roy Boulting, Michael Redgrave, James Mason, Lilli Palmer 1942) Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti 1942) Pied Piper (Irving Pichel 1942) Secret Mission (Harold French, James Mason 1942) The Major and the Minor (Billy Wilder, Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland 1942) Son of Fury (John Cromwell, Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, George Sanders 1942) Grand Central Murder (S. Sylvan Simon, Van Heflin 1942) Street of Chance (Jack Hively, Burgess Meredith 1942) This Above All (Anatole Litvak, Tyrone Power, Joan Fontaine 1942) Keeper of the Flame (George Cukor, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy 1942) The Black Swan (Henry King, Tyrone Power, Maureen O’Hara, George Sanders 1942) To the Shores of Tripoli (H. Bruce Humberstone, Randolph Scott, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara 1942) Eyes in the Night (Fred Zinnemann, Edward Arnold, Ann Sheridan, Donna Reed 1942) Fly-by-Night (Robert Siodmak, Richard Carlson, Nancy Kelly 1942) The Day Will Dawn (Harold French, Deborah Kerr, Hugh Williams, Ralph Richardson 1942) Moontide (Archie Mayo-Fritz Lang, Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains 1942) This Gun For Hire (Frank Tuttle, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Laird Cregar 1942) The Next of Kin (Thorold Dickinson, Jack Hawkins, Nova Pilbeam 1942) The Hidden Hand (Ben Stoloff, Milton Parsons, Cecil Cunningham 1942) Rossini (Mario Bonnard, Nino Besozzi, Paola Barboni 1942) The Young Mr Pitt (Carol Reed, Robert Donat, Robert Morley 1942) Fra Diavolo (Luigi Zampa, Enzo Fiermonte 1942) Joan of Paris (Robert Stevenson, Paul Henreid, Michele Morgan, Alan Ladd, Thomas Mitchell 1942) Hatter’s Castle (Lance Comfort, Robert Newton, James Mason, Deborah Kerr 1942) The Nazi Agent (Jules Dassin, Conrad Veidt 1942) Nightmare (Tim Whelan, Brian Donleavy, Diana Barrymore 1942) Murder in the Big House (B. Reeves Eason, Van Johnson, Faye Emerson, George Meeker 1942)

3


Tales of Manhattan (Julien Duvivier, Charles Boyer, Charles Laughton, Edward G. Robinson 1942) Fingers at the Window (Charles Lederer, Lew Ayres, Basil Rathbone, Laraine Day 1942) The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding, Joan Fontaine, Charles Boyer, Alexis Smith 1943) Münchhausen (Josef von Báky 1943) The Silver Fleet (Vernon Sewell, Gordon Wellesley, Ralph Richardson 1943) Devotion (Curtis Bernhardt, Ida Lupino, Olivia de Havilland, Paul Henreid 1943) They Met in the Dark (Karel Lamac, James Mason 1943) Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, Lena Horne 1943) The Edge of Darkness (Lewis Milestone, Errol Flynn 1943) The Dark Tower (John Harlow, Herbert Lom, Ann Sheridan, David Farrar 1943) The Moons Is Down (Irving Pichel, Cedric Hardwicke, Lee J. Cobb, Peter van Eyck 1943) The Yellow Canary (Herbert Wilcox, Anna Neagle, Richard Greene 1943) The Cross of Lorraine (Tay Garnett, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Gene Kelly, Peter Lorre 1943) The Battle of Russia (Frank Capra, Anatole Litvak 1943) The Adventures of Tartu (Harold S. Bucquet, Robert Donat, Valerie Hobson, Glynis Johns 1943) The Mystery of the 13th Guest (William Beaudine 1943) Thank Your Lucky Stars (David Butler, Eddie Cantor, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis 1943) The Isle of Forgotten Sins (Edgar G. Ulmer, John Carradine, Gale Sonderbaard 1943) The North Star (Lewis Milestone, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Farley Granger 1943) Forever and a Day (Edmund Goulding and others, Merle Oberon, Gladys Cooper, Roland Young, Robert Coote, Claude Rains, Cedric Hardwicke, Buster Keaton, Ray Milland 1943) The Phantom Baron (Le baron fantôme) (Serge de Poligny, Jean Cocteau, Alain Cuny, Jany Holt 1943) The Purple Heart (Lewis Milestone, Dana Andrews, Farley Granger 1944) The Suspect (Robert Siodmak, Charles Laughton 1944) Summer Storm (Douglas Sirk, George Sanders, Linda Darnell, Edward Everett Horton 1944) Till We Meet Again (Frank Borzage, Barbara Britton, Ray Milland, Walter Slezak 1944) This Happy Breed (David Lean, Noel Coward, Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, Stanley Holloway, John Mills, Kay Walsh 1944) Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, Ella Raines 1944) The Mask of Dimitrios (Jean Negulescu, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott 1944) The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett 1944) Since You Went Away (John Cromwell, Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Monty Woolley, Robert Walker, Joseph Cotten 1944) A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powelll – Emeric Pressburger, Eric Portman, Dennis Price 1944) Guest in the House (John Brahm, John Cromwell, Anne Baxter, Ralph Bellamy 1944) The White Cliffs of Dover (Clarence Brown, Irene Dunne, Peter Lawford, Elizabeth Taylor 1944) Frenchman’s Creek (Mitchell Leisen, Joan Fontaine, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Arturo de Cordova 1944) Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre 1944) Between Two Worlds (Edward A. Blatt, Paul Henreid, Eleanor Parker, John Garfield, Sydney Greenstreet 1944) A Song to Remember (Charles Vidor, Cornel Wilde, Merle Oberon, Paul Muni 1945) They Were Sisters (Arthur Crabtree 1945) Waterloo Road (Sidney Gilliat 1945)

4


A Place of One’s Own (Bernard Knowles, Osbert Sitwell, Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Dennis Price 1945) Cornered (Edward Dmytryk, Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Luther Adler 1945) Strange Illusion (Edgar G. Ulmer 1945) And Then There Were None (René Clair, Walter Huston, Barry Fitzgerald, Judith Anderson, Roland Young 1945) The Valley of Decision (Tay Garnett, Greer Garson, Gregory Peck, Gladys Cooper 1945) Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger, Dana Andrews, Alice Faye, Linda Darnell 1945) Conflict (Curtis Bernhardt, Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Alexis Smith 1945) The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, Ray Milland, Howard de Silva 1945) The Great Flamarion (Anthony Mann, Erich von Stroheim, Dan Dureya 1945) The Power of the Whistler (Lew Landers, Richard Dix, Janis Carter 1945) Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Dureya 1945) Blood on the Sun (Frank Lloyd, James Cagney, Sylvia Sidney 1945) The Great Day (Lance Comfort, Eric Portman, Flora Robson 1945) The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (Robert Siodmak, George Sanders, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ella Raines 1945) The Unseen (Lewis Allen, Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall, Gail Russell 1945) I Know Where I’m Going (Powell-Pressburger, Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey, Pamela Brown 1945) The Southerner (Jean Renoir, Zachary Scott 1945) The Story of G.I.Joe (William Wellman, Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith 1945) Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain 1945) The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, Dana Andrews 1946) Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Vincent Price, Gene Tierney, Jessica Lange 1946) Bedelia (Lance Comfort, Margaret Lockwood 1946) Carnival (Stanley Haynes, Sally Grey, Michael Wilding 1946) Beware of Pity (Maurice Elvey, Lilli Palmer 1946) Tomorrow is Forever (Irving Pichel, Orson Welles, Claudette Colbert 1946) Deception (Irving Rapper, Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid 1946) Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L. Mankiewicz 1946) The Specter of the Rose (Ben Hecht 1946) Shock (Alfred L. Werker, Vincent Price 1946) 13 Rue Madeleine (Henry Hathaway, James Cagney 1946) Two Years Before the Mast (John Farrow, Alan Ladd, Brian Donleavy 1946) The Searching Wind (William Dieterle, Robert Young, Sylvia Sidney, Dudley Digges 1946) I’ve Always Loved You (Frank Borzage, Catherine McLeod, Philip Dorn 1946) Mr Ace (Edwin L. Marin, George Raft, Sylvia Sidney 1946) Cloak and Dagger (Fritz Lang, Gary Cooper, Lilli Palmer 1946) I See a Dark Stranger (Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliatt, Deborah Kerr, Trevor Howard 1946) The Madonna’s Secret (Wilhelm Thiele, Francis Lederer 1946) A Matter of Life and Death (Powell-Pressburger, David Niven, Kim Stanley, Roger Livesey, Robert Coote, Kathleen Byron, Raymond Massey 1946) The Shop at Sly Corner (George King, Oskar Homolka, Muriel Pavlow 1946) The Overlanders (Harry Watt, Chips Rafferty 1946) Blue Skies (Stuart Heisler, Mark Sandrich, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Joan Caulfield 1946) Young Widow (Edwin L. Marin, Jane Russell, Louis Hayward 1946) Sentimental Journey (Walter Lang, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, William Bendix, Cedric Hardwicke, Connie Marshall 1946) Inside Job (Jean Yarbrough, Alan Curtis, Ann Rutherford, Preston Foster 1946)

5


Frieda (Basil Dearden, Mai Zetterling, David Farrar, Flora Robson 1947) Body and Soul (Robert Rossen 1947) Carnegie Hall (Edgar G. Ulmer 1947) The Long Night (Anatole Litvak, Henry Fonda 1947) Dear Murderer (Arthur Crabtree 1947) The Woman in the Hall (Jack Lee, Jean Simmions 1947) Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, Tyrone Power 1947) The Courtenays of Curzon Street (Herbert Wilcox, Michael Wilding 1947) The October Man (Roy Ward Baker, John Mills 1947) The Exile (Max Ophüls, Douglas Fairbanks Jr 1947) The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, Alida Valli, Gregory Peck 1947) An Ideal Husband (Alexander Korda, Michael Wilding, Diana Wynyard 1947) Whispering City (Fyodor Otsep 1947) Take My Life (Ronald Neame, Marius Goring, Greta Gynt 1947) The Upturned Glass (Lawrence Huntington, James Mason 1947) Hungry Hill (Brian Desmond Hurst, Daphne du Maurier, Margaret Lockwood, Dennis Price 1947) The Deep Valley (Jean Negulesco, Ida Lupino 1947) Mourning Becomes Electra (Rosalind Russell, Michael Redgrave, 1947) They Won’t Believe Me (Irving Pichel, Robert Young, Susan Hayward 1947) Dishonored Lady (Robert Stevenson, Hedy Lamarr, Dennis O'Keefe 1947) Railroaded! (Anthony Mann, John Ireland 1947) Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang, Joan Bennett, Michael Redgrave 1947) Lured (Douglas Sirk, Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Charles Coburn 1947) Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall 1947) I Walk Alone (Byron Haskin, Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Wendell Corey 1947) The Three Weird Sisters (Daniel Birt, Nancy Price, Mary Clare, Mary Merrall, Nova Pilbeam, Dylan Thomas 1947) Born to Kill (Robert Wise, Claire Trevor, Lawrence Tierney, Walter Slezak 1947) Captain Boycott (Frank Launder, Stewart Granger, Kathleen Ryan, Alastair Sim, Cecil Parker, Robert Donat 1947) They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti, Trevor Howard, Sally Gray 1947) Night Song (John Cromwell, Dana Andrews, Merle Oberon, Ethel Barrymore, Hoagy Carmichael 1947) The Root of All Evil (Brock Williams, Phyllis Calvert, John McCallum, Michael Rennie 1947) Seven Keys to Baldpate (Lew Landers, Philip Terry, Jaqueline White 1947) The Imperfect Lady (Lewis Allen, Teresa Wright, Ray Milland, Anthony Quinn 1947) Framed (Richard Wallace, Glenn Ford, Janis Carter 1947) California (John Farrow, Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, Barry Fitzgerald, Anthony Quinn 1947) The Macomber Affair (Zoltan Korda, Gregory Peck, Joan Bennett, Robert Preston 1947) A Woman’s Vengeance (Zoltan Kodaly, Jessica Tandy, Charles Boyer, Ann Blyth, Cedric Hardwicke 1947) Mine Own Executioner (Anthony Kimmins, Burgess Meredith, Kieron Moore 1947) The Lost Moment (Martin Gabel, Susan Hayward, Robert Cummings, Agnes Moorehead 1947) Nightbeat (Harold Huth, Anne Crawford, Christine Norden, Maxwell Reed, Ronald Howard, Hector Ross 1947) The Unconquered (Cecil B. De Mille, Gary Cooper, Paulette Goddard, Howard da Silva 1947)

6


The Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir, Charles Bickford, Robert Ryan, Joan Bennett 1947) Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway, James Stewart, Richard Crenna 1948) Sorry, Wrong Number (Anatole Litvak, Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster 1948) Esther Waters (Ian Dalrymple, Dirk Bogarde 1948) Blanche Fury (Marc Allégret, Valerie Hobson, Stewart Granger 1948) The Night has a Thousand Eyes (John Farrow, Edward G. Robinson 1948) London Belongs to Me (Sidney Gilliat, Richard Attenborough 1948) The Miracle of the Bells (Irving Pichel, Alida Valli, Frank Sinatra 1948) Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill (Lawrence Huntington, Marius Goring 1948) Ruthless (Edgar G. Ulmer 1948) Casbah (John Berry, Märta Torén 1948) Escape (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rex Harrison, Peggy Cummins 1948) So Well Remembered (Edward Dmytryk, John Mills, Trevor Howard, Martha Scott 1948) Johnny Belinda (Jean Negulesco, Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres 1948) Women in the Night (William Rowland 1948) The Woman in White (Peter Godfrey, Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Sydney Greenstreet, Gig Young 1948) All My Sons (Irving Reis, Edward G. Robinson, Burt Lancaster, Louisa Horton 1948) Sleep, My Love (Douglas Sirk, Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, Robert Cummings 1948) Close-Up (Jack Donohue, Alan Baxter 1948) Pitfall (André de Toth, Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr 1948) Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, Dennis O’Keefe, Raymond Burr, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland 1948) The Amazing Mr. X (Bernard Vorhaus, Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell, 1948) Whiplash (Lewis Seiler, Alexis Smith, Dane Clark, Zachary Scott 1948)

Kiss the Blood off my Hands (Norman Foster, Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Robert Newton 1948) Daughter of Darkness (Lance Comfort, Siobhan MacKenna 1948) The Corridor of Mirrors (Terence Young, Eric Portman, Edana Romney 1948) Man on the Run (Lawrence Huntington, Derek Farr, Kenneth More, Laurence Harvey 1948) Homecoming (Mervyn Leroy, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Anne Baxter, John Hodiak, Gladys Cooper, Cameron Mitchell 1948) Madonna of the Desert (George Blair, Lynne Roberts 1948) My Brother Jonathan (Harold French, Michael Denison, Finlay Currie, Stephen Murray 1948) Inner Sanctum (Lew Landers, Charles Russell 1948) Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica 1948) Cry for the City (Robert Siodmak, Richard Crenna, Victor Mature, Debra Paget, Shelley Winters 1948) The Walls of Jericho (John M. Stahl, Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, Anne Baxter, Kirk Douglas 1948) The Blind Goddess (Harold French, Eric Portman, Michael Denison, Claire Bloom 1948) Open Secret (John Reinhardt, John Ireland 1948) Daybreak (Compton Bennett, Eric Portman, Ann Todd, Maxwell Reed 1948) No Orchids for Miss Blandish (St. John Legh Clowes, Jack la Rue, Linden Travers 1948) I Remember Mama (George Stevens, Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Oskar Homolka, Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1948) That Lady in Ermine (Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr 1948) The Eagle with Two Heads (Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais 1948) Larceny (George Sherman, John Payne, Joan Caulfield, Dan Dureya 1948)

7


The Bribe (Robert Z. Leonard, Vincente Minnelli, Charles Laughton, Ava Gardner, Robert Taylor, Vincent Price 1948) On the Town (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly 1949) The Fan (Otto Preminger, George Sanders 1949) The Secret Garden (Fred M. Wilcox, Ralph Richardson 1949) Thieves’ Highway (Jules Dassin 1949) The Accused (William Dieterle 1949) Eroica (Walter Kolm-Vellée 1949) Black Magic (Orson Welles, Gregory Ratoff 1949) House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Edward G. Robinson 1949) Give Us This Day (Edward Dmytryk, Sam Wanamaker 1949) Madame Bovary (Vincente Minnelli, Jennifer Jones, James Mason 1949) The History of Mr. Polly (Anthony Pelissier, John Mills 1949) The Interrupted Journey (Daniel Birt 1949) Murder at the Windmill (Val Guest 1949) The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, James Mason 1949) Britannia Mews (Jean Negulesco, Dana Andrews, Maureen O’Hara 1949) Rope of Sand (William Dieterle, Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid 1949) Too Late for Tears (Byron Haskin, Lizabeth Scott, Arthur Kennedy 1949) The Barklays of Broadway (Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant 1949) Song of Surrender (Mitchell Leisen, Claude Rains 1949) Jigsaw (Fletcher Markle 1949) D.O.A. (Rudolph Maté, Russell Rouse, Leo Popkin, Edmond O’Brien 1949) Manhandled (Lewis R. Foster, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Lamour, Art Smith 1949) The Black Book (Anthony Mann, Robert Cummings, Richard Baseheart 1949) Not Wanted (Ida Lupino, Sally Forrest 1949) The Big Clock (John Farrow, Charles Laughton, Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester 1949) Port of New York (Laslo Benedek, Yul Brynner 1949) Man on the Run (Lawrence Huntington, Derek Farr, Joan Hopkins 1949) The Man in Black (Francis Searle, Sidney James 1949) Any Number Can Play (Mervyn Leroy, Clark Gable, Alexis Smith 1949) Riso amaro (Giuseppe de Santis, Vittorio Gassman, Silvana Mangano, Doris Dowling, Raf Vallone 1949) Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor 1949) The Great Madcap (El gran calavera, Luis Buñuel 1949) Stop Press Girl (Michael Barry, Sally Ann Howes, Gordon Jackson 1949) The Spider and the Fly (Robert Hamer, Eric Portman, Guy Rolfe 1949) Whisky Galore! (Alexander Mackendrick, Compton Mackenzie, Joan Greenwood, Basil Radford, Gordon Jackson, James Robertson Justice 1949) City Across the River (Maxwell Shane, Tony Curtis, Thelma Ritter 1949) Battleground (William Wellman, Van Johnson 1949) State Secret (Sidney Gilliat, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins 1949) A Run for the Money (Charles Frend, Alec Guinness, Hugn Griffith, Donald Houston, Moira Lister 1949) Night Unto Night (Don Siegel, Viveca Lindfors, Ronald Reagan, Broderick Crawford 1949) Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, Dennis Price, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson 1949) In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame 1950) Francesco – giullare di dio (Roberto Rossellini 1950) Les enfants terribles (Jean Pierre Melville, Jean Cocteau 1950)

8


So Long at the Fair (Anthony Darnborough, Terence Fisher, Jean Simmons 1950) The Astonished Heart (A. Darnborough,Terence Fisher, Noel Coward 1950) Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger, Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney 1950) Last Holiday (Henry Cass, Alec Guinness 1950) The Clouded Yellow (Ralph Thomas, Jean Simmons, Trevor Howard 1950) Under My Skin (Jean Negulesco, John Garfield, Micheline Presle 1950) The Man Who Cheated Himself (Felix E. Feist, Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt (1950) Woman on the Run (Norman Foster, Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe 1950) Tripoli (Will Price, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Howard de Silva 1950) One Way Street (Hugo Fregonese, James Mason, Marta Toren, Dan Duryea 1950) The Black Rose (Henry Hathaway, Orson Welles, Tyrone Power, Jack Hawkins 1950) The Big Lift (George Seaton, Montgomery Clift, Paul Douglas 1950) Odette (Herbert Wilcox, Anna Neagle, Trevor Howard, Peter Ustinov, Marius Horing 1950) They Were Not Divided (Terence Young, Edward Underdown, Ralph Clanton 1950) The Golden Salamander (Ronald Neame, Trevor Howard, Anouk Aimée, Herbert Lom 1950) The Edge of Doom (Mark Robson, Farley Granger, Dana Andrews 1950) Borderline (William A. Seiter, Claire Trevor, Fred MacMurray, Raymond Burr 1950) No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Linda Darnell 1950) The Fall of Berlin (Mikhail Chiaureli, Padenie Berlina 1950) Three Came Home (Jean Negulesco, Claudette Colbert, Patrick Knowles 1950) Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Gordon Douglas, James Cagney 1950) Three Secrets (Robert Wise, Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker, Ruth Roman 1950) Orfèe (Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais, Maria Casares, Juliette Greco 1950) Shadow on the Wall (Pat Jackson, Ann Sothern, Zachary Scott 1950) Our Very Own (David Miller, Ann Blyth, Farley Granger 1950) On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan 1951) Cloudburst (Francis Searle 1951) Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, James Mason 1951) The Tales of Hoffmann (Powell & Pressburger 1951) Sirocco (Curtis Bernhardt, Humphrey Bogart, Märta Torén 1951) The Third Visitor (Maurice Elvey, Sonia Dresdel 1951) Lorna Doone (Phil Karlson, Barbara Hale, Richard Greene 1951) Journey into Light (Stuart Heisler, Sterling Hayden, Viveca Lindfors, Thomas Mitchell 1951) Valentino (Lewis Allen, Eleanor Parker, Anthony Dexter 1951) The Well (Leo Popkin, Russell Rouse, Henry Morgan, Richard Rober 1951) Another Man’s Poison (Irving Rapper, Bette Davis, Gary Merrill 1951) The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, Richard Baseheart, Valentina Curtese 1951) The Racket (John Cromwell, Mel Ferrer, Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, Lizabeth Scott 1951) Fourteen Hours (Henry Hathaway, Richard Baseheart, Paul Douglas, Agnes Moorehead, Barbara Bel Geddes, Grace Kelly 1951) Home to Danger (Terence Fisher, Guy Rolfe, Rona Anderson, Stanley Baker 1951) Quo Vadis? (Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann, Peter Ustinov, Leo Genn, Deborah Kerr, Robert Taylor, Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer, Rosalie Crutchley 1951) People Will Talk (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain, Finlay Currie, Walter Slezak 1951) The First Legion (Mervyn Leroy, Charles Boyer, Lyle Bettger, Barbara Rush 1951) The Golden Horde (George Sherman, Ann Blyth, David Farrar 1951) Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, Kirk Douglas 1951) Cry Danger (Robert Parrish, Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming 1951) Circle of Danger (Jacques Tourneur, Ray Milland, Marius Goring, Patricia Roc 1951)

9


Submarine Command (John Farrow, William Holden, William Bendix 1951) Le carrosse d’or (Jean Renoir, Anna Magnani 1952) The Pickwick Papers (Noel Langley 1952) Phone Call from a Stranger (Nunnally Johnson, Jean Negulescu 1952) Hunted (Charles Crichton, Dirk Bogarde 1952) Deadline (Richard Brooks, Humphrey Bogart, Kim Stanley, Ed Begley 1952) The Card (Ronald Neame, Alec Guinness, Glynis Johns, Petula Clark 1952) The Devil Makes Three (Andrew Marton, Gene Kelly, Pier Angeli, Claus Clausen 1952) Assignment Paris! (Robert Parrish, Dana Andrews, Marta Toren, George Sanders 1952) Diplomatic Courier (Henry Hathaway, Tyrone Power, Hildegard Knef, Patricia Neal 1952) Come Back, Little Sheba (Daniel Mann, Shirley Booth, Burt Lancaster 1952) Trent’s Last Case (Herbert Wilcox, Michel Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles 1952) Botany Bay (John Farrow, Alan Ladd, James Mason, Cedric Hardwicke 1952) Gift Horse (Compton Bennett, Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough 1952) The Long Memory (Robert Hamer, John Mills, John McCallum, Eva Bergh 1952) Walk East on Beacon (Alfred Werker, Finlay Currie 1952) Actor’s Blood (Ben Hecht, Edward G. Robinson 1952) Blackbeard the Pirate (Raoul Walsh, Robert Newton, Linda Darnell, William Bendix 1952) Night Without Sleep (Roy Baker, Gary Merrill, Linda Darnell, Hildegard Knef 1952) The Green Glove (Rudolph Maté, Glenn Ford, Geraldine Brooks, Cedric Hardwicke 1952) The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell 1952) The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin 1952) The Quiet Man (John Ford, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Victor MacLaglen 1952) The Captive City (Robert Wise, John Forsythe, Joan Camden 1952) The Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer, Charles McGraw 1952) Ruby Gentry (King Vidor, Jennifer Jones, Charlton Heston, Karl Malden 1852) Face to Face (“The Secret Sharer”, John Brahm, James Mason, Michael Pate 1952) The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang, Anne Baxter, Richard Crenna 1953) Angel Face (Otto Preminger, Jean Simmons 1953) King of the Khyber Rifles (Henry King, Tyrone Power 1953) Return to Paradise (Mark Robson, Gary Cooper 1953) Madame de… (Max Ophüls, Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer, Vittorio de Sica 1953) The Man Between (Carol Reed, James Mason 1953) The Net (Anthony Asquith 1953) Jennifer (Joel Newton, Ida Lupino 1953) The Desperate Moment (Dirk Bogarde, Mai Zetterling 1953) Beat the Devil (John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre 1953) Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, Richard Widmark, Jean Peters 1953) The Kidnappers (Philip Leacock, Theodore Bikel 1953) The Limping Man (Cy Endfield, Lloyd Bridges 1953) Puccini (Carmine Gallone, Gabriele Ferzetti, Märta Torén, Nadia Gray, Paolo Stoppa, Myriam Bru 1953) The Bigamist (Ida Lupino, Edmond O’Brien, Joan Fontaine, Edmund Gwenn 1953) Albert R.N. (Lewis Gilbert, Anthony Steel 1953) A Personal Affair (Anthony Pelissier, Glynis Johns, Leo Genn, Gene Tierney, Walter Fitzgerald 1953) Operation Diplomat (John Guillermin, Francis Durbridge, Guy Rolfe 1953) Human Desire (Fritz Lang, Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford 1953)

10


All I Desire (Douglas Sirk, Barbara Stanwyck 1953) Front Page Story (Gordon Parry, Jack Hawkins, Michael Goodliffe 1953) Giuseppe Verdi (Raffaello Matarazzo, Pierre Cressoy, Anna Maria Ferrero, Gaby

André 1953) Pane, amore e fantasia (Luigi Comencini, Vittorio de Sica, Gina Lollobrigida 1953) Roman Holiday (William Wyler, Dalton Trumbo, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert 1953) Lili (Charles Walters, Leslie Carob, Mel Ferrer, Jean-Claude Anault, Zsa Zsa Gabor 1953) Call Me Madam (Walter Lang, Ethel Merman, George Sanders, Vera Ellen, Donald O’Connor 1953) King Lear (Peter Brook, Orson Welles, Alan Badel 1953) Forbidden (Rudolph Maté, Tony Curtis, Joanne Dru, Lyle Bettger 1953) Island in the Sky (William Wellman, John Wayne 1953) Charade (Roy Kellino, James Mason, Pamela Mason 1953) The Master of Ballantrae (William Keighley, Errol Flynn, Roger Livesey, Felix Aylmer 1953) The House of the Arrow (Michael Anderson, A.E.W.Mason, Oskar Homolka 1953) The Intruder (Guy Hamilton, Jack Hawkins, Michael Medwin, George Cole, Dennis Price 1953) The Sword and the Rose (Ken Annakin, Glynis Johns, Richard Todd, James Robertson Justice, Michael Gough 1953) The Knights of the Round Table (Richard Thorpe, Mel Ferrer, Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Felix Aulmer 1953) Street Corner (Muriel Box, Anne Crawford, Peggy Cummins 1953) The Egyptian (Michael Curtiz, Michael Wilding, Gene Tierney 1954) Rhapsody (Charles Vidor, Elizabeth Taylor 1954) Salka Valka (Arne Mattsson 1954) Suddenly! (Lewis Allen, Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden 1954) Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk 1954) Private Hell 36 (Don Siegel, Ida Lupino 1954) Prince Valiant (Henry Hathaway 1954) An Inspector Calls (Guy Hamilton, Alastair Sim 1954) The Sleeping Tiger (Joseph Losey, Alexis Smith, Dirk Bogarde, Alexander Knox 1954) Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte 1954) Senso (Luchino Visconti, Alida Valli 1954) The Black Widow (Nunnally Johnson 1954) The Sea Shall Not Have Them (Michael Redgrave, Dirk Bogarde, Nigel Patrick 1954) Tiefland (Leni Riefenstahl 1954) Broken Lance (Edward Dmytryk, Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Richard Widmark 1954) Shield for Murder (Edmond O’Brien, Howard W. Koch, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones 1954) Down Three Dark Streets (Arnold Laven, Broderick Crawford 1954) Pushover (Richard Quine, Kim Novak, Fred MacMurray, Philip Carey, E,G.Marshall 1954) Green Fire (Andrew Marton, Stewart Granger, Grace Kelly, Paul Douglas 1954) Night People (Nunnally Johnson, Gregory Peck, Anita Björk, Broderick Crawford 1954) The Crest of the Wave (Roy Boulting, Gene Kelly, Bernard Lee 1954) The House of Ricordi (Carmine Gallone, Marcello Mastroianni, Marta Toren 1954) Phffft! (Mark Robson, Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak 1954) La donna del fiume (The Woman of the River, ”Den åtrådda”, Mario Soldati, Sofia Loren, Rik Battaglia 1954)

11


Pellegrini d’amore (Andrea Forzano. Sofia Loren, Alda Mangini, Vich Dane, Charles Rutherford 1954) Secret of the Incas (Jerry Hopper, Charlton Heston, Thomas Mitchell, Robert Young, Yuma Sumac 1954) Pane, amore e gelosia (Luigi Comencini, Vittorio de Sica, Gina Lollobrigida 1954) Boris Godumov (Vera Stroyeva, Alexander Pirogov, Georgi Nelepp 1954) Highway Dragnet (Nathan Juran, Roger Corman, Richard Conte, Joan Bennett 1954) Sabrina (Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden 1954) The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano Brazzi 1954) The High and the Mighty (William Wellman, John Wayne, Robert Stack, Robert Newton 1954) The Divided Heart (Charles Crichton, Yvonne Mitchell 1954) Black Tuesday (Hugo Fregonese, Edward G. Robinson, Peter Graves 1954) Forbidden Cargo (Harold French, Nigel Patrick, Theodore Bikel, Jack Warner 1954) Hell’s Half Acre (John H. Auer, Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Elsa Lanchester 1954) The Black Rider (Wolf Rilla, Lionel Jeffries 1954) Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (Walt Disney 1955) Storm Over the Nile (Zoltan Korda, Terence Young, Laurence Harvey 1955) The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters 1955) The Prisoner (Peter Glenville, Alec Guinness 1955) A Kid for Two Farthings (Carol Reed, Celia Johnson 1955) The Man with the Golden Arm (Otto Preminger, Frank Sinatra 1955) Not as a Stranger (Stanley Kramer 1955) Portrait of Alison (Guy Green 1955) Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich 1955) Cast a Dark Shadow (Lewis Gilbert, Dirk Bogarde 1955) Simba (Brian Desmond Hurst, Dirk Bogarde 1955) French Can-Can (Jean Renoir, Jean Gabin 1955) The End of the Affair (Edward Dmytryk, Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, Peter Cushing, John Mills, Graham Greene 1955) Soldier of Fortune (Edward Dmytryk, Clark Gable, Susan Hampshire 1955) The Left Hand of God (Edward Dmytryk, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Agnes Moorehead, E.G.Marshall, Lee J. Cobb 1955) Hell’s Island (Phil Karlson, John Payne, Mary Murphy, Francis L. Sullivan 1955) The Finger Man (Harold D. Schuster, Frank Lovejoy 1955) The Chicago Syndicate (Fred F. Sears, Dennis O’Keefe 1955) The Deadliest Sin (Ken Hughes, Sidney Chaplin 1955) Escapade (Philip Leacock, John Mills, Alastair Sim, Yvonne Mitchell 1955) Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, Martine Carol, Peter Ustinov, Anton Walbrook, Oskar Werner 1955) I’ll Cry Tomorrow (Daniel Mann, Susan Hayward, Richard Crenna, Lillian Roth 1955) Kiss of Fire (Joseph M. Newman, Jack Palance, Barbara Rush, Rex Reason, Martha Hyer 1955) Pane, amore, e… (Dino Risi, Vittorio de Sica, Sofia Loren 1955) The Night My Number Came Up (Leslie Norman, Alexander Knox, Michael Redgrave, Denholm Elliott, Sheila Sim, Michael Hordern 1955) La vena d’oro (Mauro Bolognini, Marta Toren, Richard Baseheart, Mario Girotti 1955) The King’s Rhapsody (Herbert Wilcox, Errol Flynn, Anna Neagle, Patrice Wymore, Martita Hunt 1955)

12


Helen of Troy (Robert Wise 1956) Around the World in Eighty Days (Michael Anderson, David Niven 1956) Carousel (Henry King 1956) The Killing (Stanley Kubrick 1956) Autumn Leaves (Robert Aldrich, Joan Crawford, Anthony Perkins 1956) Lost (Guy Green, David Farrar 1956) Gorilla (Sven Nykvist, Gio Petré 1956) The Spanish Gardener (Philip Leacock, A.J.Cronin, Dirk Bogarde 1956) The Black Tent (Brian Desmond Hurst, Donald Sinden 1956) Beyond Mombasa (George Marshall, Cornel Wilde, Donna Reed, Leo Genn 1956) The Scarlet Hour (Michael Curtiz, Carol Ohmart, Tom Tryon 1956) Wicked as They Come (Ken Hughes, Arlene Dahl, Michael Goodliffe, Philip Carey 1956) I’ve Lived Before (Richard Bartlett, Jack Mahoney, Leigh Snowden, Ann Harding 1956) Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, Anne Bancroft, Aldo Rey 1956) Patterns (Rod Serling, Fielder Cook, Van Heflin, Ed Begley, Everett Sloane 1956) The Search for Bridey Murphy (Noel Langley, Morey Bernstein, Louis Hayward, Teresa Wright 1956) The Midnight Story (Joseph Pevney, Tony Curtis, Gabriel Roland, Marisa Pavan 1956) Tiger in the Smoke (Roy Baker, Donald Sinden, Muriel Pavlow, Bernard Miles 1956) Trapeze (Carol Reed, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Gina Lollobrigida, Thomas Gomez 1956) A Hill in Korea (Julian Amyes, Stanley Baker, Harry Andrews, Robert Shaw 1956) A Cry in the Night (Frank Tuttle, Edmond O’Brien, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr 1956) 23 Paces to Baker Street (Nunnally Johnson, Van Johnson, Vera Miles, Cecil Parker 1956) Time table (Mark Stevens 1956) When the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang, Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Vincent Price 1956) Alexander the Great (Robert Rossen, Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Frederic March, Peter Cushing 1956) The Man in the Road (Lance Comfort, Ella Raines, Derek Farr, Donald Wolfit, Cyril Cusack 1956) The Price of Fear (Abner Biberman, Merle Oberon, Lex Barker 1956) Lisbon (Ray Milland, Claude Rains, Maureen O’Hara 1956) La fortuna di essere donna (Alessandro Blasetti, Sofia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Charles Boyer 1956) Toward the Unknown (Mervyn Leroy, William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, James Garner 1956) War and Peace (King Vidor, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, John Mills 1956) Flame of the Islands (Edward Ludwig, Yvonne de Carlo, Zachary Scott, Howard Duff 1956) A Town Like Alice (Jack Lee, Virginia McKenna, Peter Finch 1956) The Long Arm (Charles Frend, Jack Hawkins 1956) The Revolt of Mamie Stover (Raoul Walsh, Jane Russell, Agnes Moorehead 1956) Gervaise (René Clement, Maria Schell 1956) Istanbul (Joseph Pevney, Errol Flynn 1957) A Farewell to Arms (Charles Vidor, John Huston 1957) Legend of the Lost (Henry Hathaway, Sofia Loren, John Wayne, Rossano Brazzi 1957) The Traitor (Michael McCarthy, Donald Wolfit 1957) Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton 1957) The Enemy Below (Dick Powell, Curt Jürgens, Robert Mitchum, Theodore Bikel 1957) The admirable Crichton (Lewis Gilbert, Kenneth More, Martita Hunt, Cecil Parker, Diane Cilento 1957) Love in the Afternoon (Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier 1957)

13


Count Five and Die (Victor Vicas, Jeffrey Hunter, Nigel Patrick, Annemarie Düringer 1957) Boy on a Dolphin (Jean Negulesco, Sophia Loren, Alan Ladd, Clifton Webb 1957) Abandon Ship! (Richard Sale, Tyrone Power, Mai Zetterling, Moira Lister 1957) Les Girls (George Cukor, Kay Kendall, Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor 1957) Across the Bridge (Ken Annakin, Rod Steiger, Noel Willman, Bernard Lee 1957) Account Rendered (Peter Graham Scott, Honor Blackman, Griffith Jones 1957) The Silent Enemy (William Fairchild, Laurence Harvey 1957) The Story of Esther Costello (David Miller, Joan Crawford, Heather Sears, Rossano Brazzi 1957) Jeanne Eagels (George Sidney, Jeff Chandler, Kim Novak 1957) Silk Stockings (Rouben Mamoulian, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire, Peter Lorre, Jules Munshin 1957) The Man in the Shadow (Jack Arnold, Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles 1957) Brothers in Law (Roy & John Boulting, Ian Carmichael, Richard Attenborough 1957) The Secret Place (Clive Donner, Belinda Lee, Robert Brooke 1957) Le notti bianche (Luchino`Visconti. Maria Schell, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean Marais 1957) The Flesh is Weak (Don Chaffey, John Derek, Milly Vitale 1957) Peyton Place (Mark Robson, Lana Turner, Arthur Kennedy, Hope Lange, Diane Varsi, Russ Tamblyn, Lee Philips, Lloyd Nolan 1957) Il cavaliere dalla spada nera (Laslo Kish, Steve Barclay 1957) The Roots of Heaven (John Huston, Errol Flynn, Herbert Lom, Trevor Howard, Juliette Greco 1958) The Wind Cannot Read (Ralph Thomas, Dirk Bogarde 1958) Ice Cold in Alex (John Lee Thompson, John Mills, Anthony Quayle 1958) The Buccaneer (Anthony Quinn, Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston, Claire Bloom 1958) Anna Lucasta (Arnold Laven, Eartha Kitt, Sammy Davis Jr 1958) The Doctor’s Dilemma (Anthony Asquith, Dirk Bogarde, Leslie Caron 1958) Das Dreimäderlhaus (Ernst Marischka, Franz Schubert, Karlheinz Böhm 1958) Fröken April (Göran Gentele, Gunnar Björnstrand, Lena Söderblom, Jarl Kulle 1958) The Key (Carol Reed, Sophia Loren, William Holden, Trevor Howard 1958) Run Silent, Run Deep (Robert Wise, Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster 1958) Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle, Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau 1958) Dunkirk (Leslie Norman, John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee 1958) Brink of Life (Nära livet, Ingmar Bergman, Ulla Isaksson, Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck, Bibi Andersson, Margareta Krook, Max von Sydow 1958) Chase a Crooked Shadow (Michael Anderson, Anne Baxter, Richard Todd, Herbert Lom, Alexander Knox 1958) Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, Richard Burton, Mary Ure, Claire Bloom 1958) Carve Her Name With Pride (Lewis Gilbert, Virginia McKenna, Paul Scofield 1958) Never Love a Stranger (Robert Stevens, John Drew Barrymore, Steve McQueen, Lita Milan 1958) The Two-Headed Spy (André de Toth, Jack Hawkins, Alexander Knox, Gia Scala 1958) Eugene Onegin (Roman Tikhomirov, Ariadna Shengelaia, Igor Ozerov 1958) The Bat (Crane Wilbur, Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price 1958) The Long Hot Summer (Martin Ritt, Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward 1958) South Seas Adventure (Carl Dudley, Orson Welles 1958) La spada e la croce (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Yvonne de Carlo, Rossana Podestà, Mario Girotti (Terence Hill) 1958) I Accuse (José Ferrer, Viveca Lindfors, David Farrar, Anton Walbrook, Felix Aylmer, Herbert Lom, Donald Wolfit 1958)

14


Journey to the Center of the Earth (Henry Levin, James Mason, Pat Boone 1959) The Brothers Karamazov (Richard Brooks, Yul Brynner, Lee J. Cobb 1959) The Last Days of Pompeii (Sergio Leone, Steve Reeves 1959) A Stranger in my Arms (Helmut Käutner, June Allyson, Jeff Chandler 1959) Shake Hands with the Devil (Michael Anderson, James Cagney, Don Murray, Glynis Johns, Sybil Thorndike 1959) Hannibal (Edgar G. Ulmer, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Victor Mature, Gabriele Ferzetti, Rita Gam 1959) North West Frontier (J. Lee Thompson, Kenneth More, Lauren Bacall, Herbert Lom 1959) Sapphire (Basil Dearden, Paul Massie, Bernard Miles, Yvonne Mitchell, Nigel Patrick 1959) Timbuktu (Jacques Tourneur, Victor Mature, Yvonne de Carlo 1959) Herod the Great (Viktor Tourjansky (Arnaldo Genoino), Edmund Purdom 1959) The House on Haunted Hill (William Castle, Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart 1959) Marie-Octobre (Julien Duvivier, Danielle Darrieux, Lino Ventura 1959) The Overcoat (Alexey Batalov, Rolan Bykov 1959) Exodus (Otto Preminger, Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint 1960) Song Without End (Charles Vidor, George Cukor, Dirk Bogarde 1960) The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray, Anthony Quinn 1960) Once More, with Feeling! (Stanley Donen, Yul Brynner, Kay Kendall 1960) Requiem for a Heavyweight (Ralph Nelson, Anthony Quinn 1960) The Angel Wore Red (Nunnally Johnson, Dirk Bogarde, Ava Gardner 1960) Beyond the Curtain (Compton Bennett, Eva Bartok, Richard Greene, Marius Goring 1960) Conspiracy of Hearts (Ralph Thomas, Lilli Palmer, Albert Lieven, Yvonne Mitchell, Sylvia Syms, Michael Goodliffe, Ronald Lewis 1960) The Lady with the Dog (Iosif Haifits, Iya Savvina, Alexey Batalov 1960) The Fate of a Man (Sergei Bondarchuk 1960) The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Brenda de Banzie, Joan Plowright, Roger Livesey, Alan Bates, Albert Finney, Shirley Ann Field 1960) Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field 1960) Faces in the Dark (David Eady, Boileau-Narcejac, John Gregson, Mai Zetterling, John Ireland 1960) Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, Carl Boehm, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley 1960) Seven Thieves (Henry Hathaway, Edward G. Robinson, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, Joan Collins 1960) Circle of Deception (Jack Lee, Bradford Dillman, Suzy Parker, Harry Andrews, Robert Stephens 1960) Desire in the Dust (William F. Claxton, Raymond Burr, Joan Bennett, Martha Hyer, Ken Scott 1960) Two Women (Vittorio de Sica, Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Eleanor Brown 1960) David and Goliath (Ferdinando Baldi, Orson Welles, Hilton Edwards 1960) The Queen of Spades (Roman Tikhomirov, Oleg Strizhenov 1960) Portrait in Black (Michael Gordon, Anthony Quinn, Lana Turner, Richard Baseheart 1960) Five Branded Women (Martin Ritt, Silvana Mangano, Van Heflin, Jeanne Moreau, Richard Baseheart 1960) The Mountain Road (Daniel Mann, James Stewart, Lisa Lu 1960) Don Quijote (Orson Welles, Francisco Reiguera, Akim Tamiroff 1960) Let No Man Write My Epitaph (Philip Leacock, Burl Ives, Shelley Winters, James Darren, Jean Seberg, E lla Fitzgerald 1960) The Spider’s Web (Godfrey Grayson, Agatha Christie, Glynis Johns, John Justin 1960)

15


It Started in Naples (Melville Shavelson, Clark Gable, Sophia Loren, Vittorio de Sica 1960) Francis of Assisi (Michael Curtiz 1961) Master of the World (William Witney, Vincent Price 1961) The Naked Edge (Michael Anderson, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr 1961) Victim (Basil Dearden, Dirk Bogarde 1961) Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, Natalie Wood 1961) The Outsider (Delbert Mann, Tony Curtis 1961) Gli invasori (Mario Bava, Cameron Mitchell 1961) The Trojan Horse (Giorgio Ferroni, Steve Reeves 1961) Orazi e Curiazi (‘Duel of Champions’, Ferdinando Baldi, Terence Young, Alan Ladd 1961) A Cold Wind in August (Alexander Singer, Lola Albright, Scott Marlowe, Joe de Santis 1961) A Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Murray Melvin, Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens 1961) Cléo de 5 à 7 (Agnès Varda, Corinne Blanchard , Michel Legrand 1961) The White Warrior – Agi Murad, il diavolo bianco (Richard Freda, Steve Reeves 1961) Ivan’s Childhood (Andrei Tarkovsky 1961) Clear Skies (“Chistoe Nebo”, Grigori Chukrai, Nina Drobysheva, Yevgeniy Urbansky 1961) The Devil at 4 O’Clock (Mervyn Leroy, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, Jean-Pierre Aumont 1961) Sanctuary (Tony Richardson, William Faulkner, Lee Remick, Odetta, Yves Montand 1961) The Password is Courage (Andrew L. Stone, Dirk Bogarde 1962) The Hands of a Stranger (Newt Arnold, Paul Lukather 1962) Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, John Clifford, Candace Hilligoss 1962) The Dock Brief (James Hill, Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough 1962) The War Lover (Philip Leacock, Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner 1962) Jigsaw (Val Guest, Jack Warner, Yolande Donlan 1962) The Intruder (Roger Corman, William Shatner, Frank Maxwell 1962) Premature Burial (Roger Corman, Ray Milland 1962) We Are the Damned (Joseph Losey, Viveca Lindfors, Alexander Knox, Oliver Reed, Shirley Ann Field 1962) The Trial (Orson Wellles, Antony Perkins, Romy Schneider, Jeanne Moreau 1962) Sodom and Gomorrah (Robert Aldrich, Stewart Granger, Anouk Aimée, Stanley Baker, Pier Angeli 1962) Merrill’s Marauders (Sam Fuller, Jeff Chandler 1962) Sunday in New York (Peter Tewksbury, Jane Fonda 1963) The Victors (Carl Foreman, Eli Wallach, George Hamilton, George Peppard, Melina Mercouri, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Peter Fonda, Albert Finney 1963) The Sword of Lancelot (Cornel Wilde, Brian Ahearne, Jean Wallace 1963) Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, Albert Finney, Susannah York, Hugh Griffith 1963) The List of Adrian Messenger (John Huston, George C. Scott, Kirk Douglas, Dana Wynter, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Gladys Cooper 1963) McLintock! (Andrew McLaglen, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Yvonne de Carlo 1963) Coriolanus (Giorgio Ferroni, Gordon Scott 1963) Diary of a Madman (Reginald le Borg, Vincent Price 1963) RoGoPaG (Rosselllini, Godard, Pasolini and Orson Welles 1963) Summer Holiday (Peter Yates, Cliff Richard, Laurie Peters 1963) Caterina di Russia (Umberto Lenzi, Hildegard Knef 1963) Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Bryan Forbes, Richard Attenborough, Kim Stanley 1964) Hot Enough for June (Ralph Thomas, Dirk Bogarde 1964)

16


Night Must Fall (Karel Reisz, Albert Finney, Susan Hampshire 1964) Lilith (Robert Rossen 1964) The Night of the Iguana (John Huston, Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton, 1964) Of Human Bondage (Ken Hughes, Bryan Forbes, Lawrence Harvey, Kim Novak 1964) Becket (Peter Glenville, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton 1964) The Carpetbaggers (Edward Dmytryk, Alan Ladd, George Peppard 1964) Zulu (Cy Endfield, Stanley Baker, Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson 1964) The Thin Red Line (Andrew Marton, Jack Warden, Keir Dullea 1964) The Night Walker (William Castle, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor 1964) The Girl with Green Eyes (Desmond Davis, Rita Tushingham, Peter Finch 1964) Fate is the Hunter (Ralph Nelson, Glenn Ford, Rod Taylor 1964) Flight from Ashiya (Michael Anderson, Yul Brynner, Richard Widmark, George Chakiris, Shirley Knight 1964) Lucky Jo (Michel Deville, Eddie Constantine, Pierre Brasseur 1964) The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, Constance Towers 1964) Woman of Straw (Basil Dearden, Ralph Richardson, Sean Connery, Gina Lollobrigida 1964) The High Bright Sun (Ralph Thomas, Dirk Bogarde 1965) Onkel Toms Hütte (Géza von Radványi, Herbert Lom 1965) Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau 1965) The Ipcress File (Sidney J. Furie, Michael Caine 1965) Sands of the Kalahari (Cy Endfield, Stanley Baker, Susannah York, Stuart Whitman, Theodore Bikel, Harry Andrews 1965) Le Bonheur (Agnès Varda, Jean-Claude Drouot 1965) A Study in Terror (James Hill, John Neville, Atnony Quayle, Robert Morley 1965) Hail Mafia (Raoul Lévy, Eddie Constantine, Henry Silva, Jack Klugman 1965) Morituri (Bernhard Wicki, Yul Brynner, Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard 1965) Devils of Darkness (Lance Comfort, William Sylvester 1965) A Rage to Live (Walter Grauman, Suzanne Pleshette, Ben Gazzara, Peter Graves 1965) Brainstorm (William Conrad, Jeff Hunter, Dana Andrews, Viveca Lindfors 1965) Grand Prix (John Frankenheimer 1966) Triple Cross (Terence Young, Christopher Plummer 1966) Operazione San Gennaro (Dino Risi, Totò 1966) Paris brûle-t-il? (René Clément 1966) The Quiller Memorandum (Michael Anderson, Max von Sydow, George Segal, Senta Berger, Alec Guinness 1966) The Defector (Raoul Lévy, Montgomery Clift, Hardy Kruger 1966) Judith (Daniel Mann, Sophia Loren, Peter Finch, Jack Hawkins 1966) Deadlier than the Male (Ralph Thomas, Richard Johnson, Elke Sommer 1966) The Doomsday Flight (William A. Graham, Edmond O’Brien, Van Johnson, Jack Lord, Katherine Crawford 1966) La strega in amore (Damiano Damiani, Richard Johnson, Gian Maria Volonte 1966) The Professionals (Richard Broooks, Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Robert Ryan 1966) The Comedians (Peter Glenville, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guinness 1967) The Long Duel (Ken Annakin, Yul Brynner, Trevor Howard 1967) Les demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy, Catherine Deneuve, Gene Kelly, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli 1967) The Paradise Makers (? Michael Bryant 1967) Oedipus the King (Philip Saville, Christopher Plummer, Lilli Palmer, Donald Sutherland, Orson Welles 1967)

17


The Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy 1968) The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, Katharine Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins 1968) A Twist of Sand (Don Chaffey, Richard Johnson, Jeremy Kemp, Peter Vaughan, Honor Blackman 1968) Ice Station Zebra (John Sturges, Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine, Alf Kjellin 1968) Istanbul Express (Richard Irving, Gene Barry, Senta Berger 1968) Sebastian (David Greene, Dirk Bogarde, Susannah York, Lilli Palmer, John Gielgud 1968) Counterpoint (Ralph Nelson, Charlton Heston, Maximilian Schell 1968) Amanti (Vittorio de Sica, Faye Dunaway, Marcello Mastroianni 1968) Oliver! (Carol Reed, Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Shani Wallis, Harry Secombe 1968) House of Cards (John Guillermin, George Peppard, Inger Stevens, Orson Welles 1968) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ken Hughes, Dick van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Gert Froebe, Robert Helpmann, James Robertson Justice, Lionel Jeffries 1968) Where Eagles Dare (Richard Burtion, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark 1968) Testa di sbarco per otto implacabili (“Hell in Normandy”, Alfonso Brescia, Al Bradley, Guy Madison 1968) Histoires extraordinaires (Edgar Allan Poe, Roger Vadim, Louis Malle, Federico Fellini, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Alain Delon, Terence Stamp 1968) Che! (Richard Fleischer, Omar Sharif 1969) Age of Consent (Michael Powell, James Mason, Helen Mirren 1969) The Thousand Plane Raid (Boris Sagal, Christopher George 1969) Pendulum (George Schaefer, George Peppard, Jean Seberg 1969) Prince Igor (Roman Tikhomirov 1969) Barbed Water (Orson Welles 1969) The Southern Star (Sidney Hayers, Orson Welles, George Segal, Ursula Andress, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry 1969) On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Vincente Minelli, Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand 1970) Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Lev Kulidzhanov 1970) Promise at Dawn (Jules Dassin, Simone Signoret 1970) Song of Norway (Andrew L. Stone 1970) Anonymous Venetian (Enrico Maria Salerno 1970) Wuthering Heights (Robert Fuest, Timothy Dalton 1970) The Old Man who Cried Wolf (Walter Grauman, Edward G. Robinson 1970) The Other Man (Richard A. Colla, Joan Hackett 1970) Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, Martin Balsam, Jason Robards, E.G.Marshll 1970) King Lear (Peter Brook, Paul Scofield 1971) The Brotherhood of Satan (Bernard McEveely 1971) Man in the Wilderness (John Huston, Richard Harris 1971) Kill! (Romain Gary, James Mason, Jean Seberg 1971) The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Patrick Wymark 1971) Puppet on a Chain (Geoffrey Reeve, Alistair MacLean, Sven Bertil Taube 1971) When Eight Bells Toll (Étienne Perier, Anthony Hopkins, Alistair MacLean1971) Le casse (Henri Verneuil, Omar Sharif, Jean-Paul Belmondo 1971) Yuma (Ted Post, Clint Walker, John Kerr 1971) A Howling in the Woods (Daniel Petrie, Vera Miles, Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman 1971) The Deserter (Burt Kennedy, John Huston, Richard Crenna, Ian Bannen, Chuck Connors, Ricardo Montalban 1971)

18


Malpertuis (Harry Kümel, Orson Welles 1971) Fratello sole, sorella luna (Franco Zeffirelli, Alec Guinness 1972) Slaughterhouse 5 (George Roy Hill 1972) Man of La Mancha (Arthur Hiller, Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren, Brian Blessed, Harry Andrews 1972) The Groundstar Conspiracy (Lamont Johnson, George Peppard, Michael Sarrazin 1972) The Assassination of Trotsky (Joseph Losey, Richard Burton, Alain Delon, Romy Schneider 1972) Enter the Devil (Frank Q. Dobbs 1972) Necromancy (Bert I. Gordon, Orson Welles, Pamela Franklin 1972) Get to Know Your Rabbit (Brian de Palma, Tom Smothers, John Astin, Katherine Ross,

Orson Welles 1972) Le serpent (Henri Verneuil, Yul Brynner, Dirk Bogarde 1973) Giordano Bruno (Giuliano Montaldo 1973) England Made Me (Peter Duffell, Peter Finch, Michael York, Hildegard Neil 1973) The Devil’s Wedding Night (“Il plenilunio delle vergini”, Luigi Batzella (Paul Solvay), Mark Damon, Rosalba Neri 1973) Moses the Lawgiver (Gianfranco de Bosio 1974) The Klansman (Terence Young, Richard Burton, Lee Marvin, O.J.Simpson 1974) The Voyage (Vittorio de Sica, Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Ian Bannen 1974) The Gathering Storm (Herbert Wise, Richard Burton, Virginia McKenna, Robert Hardy 1974) The Tamarind Seed (Blake Edwards 1974, Julie Andrews, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle 1974) Soft Beds, Hard Battles (Roy Boulting, Peter Sellers, Curt Jurgens, Lila Kedrova 1974) Lisztomania (Ken Russell 1975) Love Among the Ruins (George Cukor, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn 1975) Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner 1976) The Great Houdini (Melville Shavelson 1976) Rogue Male (Clive Donner, Peter O’Toole, Alastair Sim 1976) Satan’s Slave (Norman J. Warren 1976) Valentino (Ken Russell, Rudolf Nureyev 1977) Suspiria (Dario Argento, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett 1977) The Sentinel (Michael Winner 1977) Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea (Jindrich Polak 1977) The Golden Rendez-Vous (Alistair MacLean, Ashley Lazarus, Richard Harris 1977) The Serpent’s Egg (Ingmar Bergman, David Carradine, Liv Ullman, Gert Froebe 1977) Beyond Good and Evil (Liliana Cavani, Erland Josephson, Robert Powell, Dominique Sanda 1977) The Iron Cross (Sam Peckinpah, James Coburn, James Mason, Maximilian Schell 1977) The Wild Geese (Andrew V. McLaglen, Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris 1978) Bear Island (Don Sharp, Alistair MacLean, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Donald Sutherland 1979) Ashanti (Richard Fleischer, Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov 1979) The Passage (John Lee Thompson, Anthony Quinn, James Mason, Christopher Lee, Malcolm McDowell, Patricia Neal 1979) The Golden Gate Murders (Walter Grauman, Sol Kaplan, Susannah York, David Janssen 1979) Breakthrough (Andrew McLaglen, Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger 1979) Nightkill (Ted Post, Robert Mitchum, Jaclyn Smith 1980) Nijinsky (Herbert Ross, Alan Bates 1980)

19


Night Kill (Ted Post, Robert Mitchum, Jaclyn Smith 1980) Ragtime (Milos Forman 1981) Pennies from Heaven (Herbert Ross 1981) Passione d’amore (Ettore Scola, Bernard Giraudeau, Valeria d’Obici, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Massimo Girotti 1981) Frances (Graeme Clifford, Jessica Lange 1982) The Woman in White (TV 1982) The Keep (Michael Mann 1983) The Pirates of Penzance (Wilford Leach 1983) Le bal (Ettore Scola 1983) Tuareg – il guerriero del deserto (Enzo Castellani, Mark Harmon 1984) Second Sight (1984) The Master of Ballantrae (Douglas Hickox, Michael York, John Gielgud, Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton 1984) Vagabond (Agnès Varda, Sandrine Bonnaire 1985) Silas Marner (Giles Foster, Ben Kingsley 1985) The Black Arrow (Walt Disney, Oliver Reed 1985) Code Name: Emerald (Jonathan Sanger, Ed Harris, Max von Sydow, Horst Bucholz, Helmut Berger 1985) The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, Erland Josephson, Allan Edwall, Sven Wollter 1986) Highlander (Russell Mulcahy, Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery 1986) The Whistle Blower (Simon Langton, Michael Caine, John Gielgud, Nigel Havers, Gordon Jackson 1986) Hotel du Lac (Giles Foster, Anna Massey, Denholm Elliott 1986) A Hazard of Hearts (John Hough, Diana Rigg, Marcus Gilbert, Edward Fox, Christopher Plummer, Helena Bonham Carter1987) Spellbinder (Janet Greek 1988) A Handful of Dust (Charles Sturridge, Kristin Scott Thomas, James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Judi Dench, Alec Guinness 1988) Heartland (Anthony Hopkins 1989) The Endless Game (Bryan Forbes, Albert Finney, George Segal, Kristin Scott-Thomas 1989) The Heat of the Day (Christopher Morahan, Michael York, Michael Gambon, Patricia Hodge 1989) The Lady and the Highwayman (John Hough, Hugh Grant, Michael York, Claire Bloom, Oliver Reed 1989) Anything to Survive (Zale Dalen, Robert Conrad 1990) Guilty by Suspicion (Irwin Winkler, Robert de Niro 1991) Impromptu (James Lapine, Hugh Grant, Judy Davis 1991) Memories of Midnight (Gary Nelson, Jane Seymour, Omar Sharif 1991) Dead in the Water (Bill Condon, Bryan Brown, Teri Hatcher, Anne de Salvo 1991) Where Angels Fear to Tread (Charles Sturridge, Helen Mirren, Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis 1991) Memento Mori (Jack Clayton, Muriel Spark, Maggie Smith, Michael Hordern, Renée Asherson, Cyril Cusack 1992) The Portrait (Arthur Penn, Lauren Bacall, Gregory Peck, Cecilia Peck 1993) Death Train (David Jackson, Alistair MacLean, Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Stewart, Alexandra Paul 1993) The Jungle Book (Walt Disney 1994) Moses (Roger Young 1995) The Old Curiosity Shop (Kevin Connor, Peter Ustinov, Tom Courtenay 1995)

20


Rasputin (Uli Edel, Alan Rickman, Ian McKellen, Greta Scacchi, David Warner 1996) The Woman in White (TV 1997) Sanctuary (Tibor Tacacs, Mark Dacascos 1997) Schwarze Sonne (Rüdiger Sünner 1998) Dangerous Beauty (Marshall Herskovitz, Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell 1998) Frenchman’s Creek (Ferdinand Fairfax, Tara Fitzgerald, Anthony Delon, Daniel Webb 1998) Stigmata (Rupert Wainwright, Gabriel Byrne 1999) Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, Ellen Burstyn 2000) Tora! Tora! Tora! The real story of Pearl Harbour (Laura Verklan, documentary 2000) Crime and Punishment (Menahem Golan, John Hurt 2002) The Piano Player (Jean-Pierre Roux, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Lambert, Diane Kruger 2002) Huit femmes (Francois Ozon, Isabelle Huppert, Cathérine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux 2002) Doctor Zhivago (Giacomo Campiotti, Hans Matheson, Sam Neill, Keira Knightely 2002) The Bridge of San Luis Ray (Mary McGuckian, Robert de Niro 2004) Empire (Uli Edel 2005) Copying Beethoven (Agnieszka Holland, Ed Harris 2006) The Painted Veil (John Curran, Edward Norton 2006) The Departed (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen 2006) Across the Universe (Julie Taymour, John Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood 2007) Tsar (Pavel Lungin 2009) The Last Legion (Doug Lefler, Colin Firth 2009) Bratya Karamazovy (Yuriy Moroz 2009) Brothers’ War (Jerry Buteyn, Tino Struckmann, Hugh Daly 2009) Anonymous (Roland Emmerich 2011) Atlas Shrugged (Paul Johansson 2011) Maleficarum (Jac Avila 2011) Killer Priest (Damian Chapa 2011) Louis XI – le pouvoir fracassé (Henri Helman, Jacques Perrin, 2011) The Red Rose of Normandy (Tino Struckmann 2011) Cristiada (Dean Wright, Andy Garcia 2012) Kahaani (Sujoy Ghosh, Vidya Balan 2012) Horici ker (”Burning Bush”, Agnieszka Holland 2013) Night Train to Lisbon (Bille August, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Jack Huston, Lena Olin 2013) The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum 2014) Leopardi (Mario Martone 2014) Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh 2014) American Sniper (Clint Eastwood 2014) Father Rupert Mayer (Damian Chapa 2014) Human Harvest (Leon Lee, Ethan Gutmann 2014) Leviatan (Andret Zvyagintsev 2014) The Purple and the Blood (Henri Helman, Jacques Perrin, Pierre Boulanger 2014) Macbeth (Justin Kurzel 2015) The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper 2015) The Revenant (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu 2015) Wolf Hall (Mark Rylance 2015) Going Clear: the Prison of Belief (Alex Gibney 2015) Assassin’s Creed (Justin Kurzel 2016)

21


Inferno (Ron Howard, Tom Hanks 2016) The Jungle Book (Walt Disney, Jon Favreau 2016) A Dark Song (Liam Gavin 2016) Elle (Peter Verhoeven, Isabelle Huppert 2016) The Love Witch (Anna Biller 2016) Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Maria Schrader, Josef Hader 2016) War and Peace (Tom Harper, Andrew Davies, Lily James, James Norton, Paul Dano 2016) Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Vincent van Gogh 2017) Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas 2017) The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin 2017) The Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day Lewis, Vicky Krieps 2017) The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones 2017) Vice (Adam McKay, Christian Bale 2018) King Lear (Richard Eyre, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson 2018) The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, John Huston, Lilli Palmer 2018) The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Olivia Colman 2018) The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino 2019) The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles, Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce 2019) More films with links on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/206741366122587/

Latest update: 30.3.2020

Film reviews Battleship Potemkin (1925) (9/10) Mutiny on a Russian battleship 1905 with consequences both tragic and heroic 17 May 2019

Of course it is still impressing after almost a hundred years, for its amazing sense of details, its tremendously dramatic impact, its highly strung pathos and its wonderful cinematography all through, but still there is room for some objections. It can’t be helped, but it is tendentious, it glories in Soviet nationalism with the individual being effaced in the movement of the masses, it even says so in the text, and it is somewhat hysterical in its constant muddle of crowds amassing and running together in fanatic frenzy, which reminds me of the fanatic Christians massing together to massacre the poor Hypatia in the Agora film. It’s a film about crowds for the masses, where individualism is completely run over and abolished, which it can’t be for human reasons. It’s a great film but with tendencies that must bring misgivings, as a prelude to the age of totalitarianism under Stalin and others. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015648/

22


Karl XII (1925) (7/10) Grandiose spectacle of the 20s badly in need of restoration. 27 January 2018

This was originally a spectacular project in two films of altogether 265 minutes, which in 1933 were cut down into only one film of 100 minutes with a sound track of music to it. The mutilated film gives an impression like of a news reel of the Great Nordic War in the early 1700s with no depth to it at all and little characterization except for the king who is mainly only posing. Even the script is poor although written by one of the leading Swedish authors at the time, while the main impact of the film is the grandiose battle scenes involving many statists in no end to their muddle. Brunius made two more epic silent films like this, and both are better than this one. However, it's a great story and tragedy, the fall of the super power of Sweden in that war in which Peter the Great and Russia took over the lead of power in north-eastern Europe, and you can't make a bad film on such a historical impeccable and impressive ground, while the film actually misses much of the story and ignores half of it. Denmark and Finland are not involved or mentioned at all, although they were major parts of the tragedy, the most important part of the first battle of Narva (the sudden snow storm) is totally ignored, and Peter the Great is made almost a caricature. Gösta Ekman as the king makes him an impressive character indeed and almost without speaking. The sub plot of the family is interesting, and it probably plays a significant part in the original. Like Abel Gance's great 5 hour film of Napoleon, also this original should be worth discovering and restoring. The music fitted in 1933 is interesting, though. It's a miscellanous blend of very much Handel, some Chopin and Borodin in the Polish and Russian scenes, even a stroke of Sibelius, while the dominating tune is the March of Charles XII of doubtful origin, possibly even Russian, which fits well into the context. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015968/?ref_=ur_urv Fänrik Ståls sägner (1926) (9/10) A moving rendering of the Finnish national epic on screen. John W. Brunius made three great Swedish epics in the late 20s of which this one was the second, all three based on Swedish historical reality from different centuries. This concerns the tragic war with Russia in 1808, in which Sweden lost Finland, which had been the eastern part of Sweden for 650 years. The less said about the war, the better, it was an assault as foul as the one in the Winter War of 1939 by as hopelessly overwhelming superpower against a small people who only wanted to live in peace. The national poet of Finland Johan Ludvig Runeberg compiled a collection of poems

23


about it, taking care of the few glimpses of hope and glory on the Swedish-Finnish side that did after all shine through. It's a number of epic episodes, and John W. Brunius has piously put all the best ones on screen. The result is a great delight to all literature lovers of Finland and Sweden of Runeberg and his eloquent Homeric poetry, since they will recognize every scene and character from the poems. Like in all these three epics of Brunius', the screening is admirable, many scenes are unforgettably pictorial, almost like true historical paintings, and you can see how the actors enjoyed making these films. Edvin Adolphson is outstanding as George Carl von Döbeln, the only Swedish general in the war who went down honorably in history, but all the characters are excellent. The one episode which is not from Runeberg is the love story in the second part, adding an unnecessary bathos to the film. It does not follow the same chronology and order as Runeberg's poems but has been put into a more epic composition, the first part ending with the treason and fall of Sveaborg, dealing a mortal blow to the defense from the beginning, while the second part ends with the glory of Döbeln and the heartrending tragedy of Sven Dufva, also two of the highlights in the poems. On the whole, it's a great film, the rustic sceneries are magnificent, the battle scenes quite impressing still, the human ingredients add both charm and humor to the epic collage, and you will always remember the film with a warm heart, especially íf you are a friend of Finland. It should be noted, that although it's a Swedish film, it was made in Finland, and all the amateur actors are Finnish. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016910/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Last Command (1928) (10/10) Emil Jannings as a general in the performance of his life. 4 January 2017

I had wanted to see this film for a number of decades before at last it became available on the web. At one time I had the opportunity to see it in a real cinema, but then something happened and the show was cancelled – so I had a special relationship with this film ever since the 70s, when I became a fan of the genius von Sternberg. His genius is particularly evident in this film, with its overwhelmingly human touch and story. Emil Jannings is cousin of the tzar and grand duke of Russia. As such he is acting as general in the war, when the revolution breaks out, and he is brutally humiliated and saves his life only by a weird coincidence, manages to get out of Russia and turns up in Hollywood as a pathetic and shaky old stand-in. A director (very convincingly played by William Powell, later 'The Thin Man') discovers him as the former general he is, the director himself having been a Russian revolutionary and humiliated by the general. He gives the former grand duke a chance to play the general once again in a film... It's the moment of reckoning. Jannings' performance is as always stunningly impressive, and here he gets the opportunity to play the whole range of his ability from a glorious but overbearing

24


imperial grand duke to a horribly humiliated old wreck of what once was a man. The tremendous story adds to the pathos and dramatic power of the film, which mercilessly accelerates in interest and suspense all the way until the devastating finale... I have seen most of Josef von Sternberg's films, but I was never so impressed as by this one, although I had waited for it 40 years. So much is contained in it, the whole fate and tragedy of Russia impersonated in a looming giant of a figure describing a monumental fall from total glory to total disgrace, and yet, like in "The Last Laugh", he succeeds in performing the miracle of triumphing by his mere tragedy. The music adds to the greatness of this film as well, there is much Tchaikovsky, both the Slave March and the Pathetic symphony, but the rest of the music, which is the greater part, is equally apt. Those masters of music who chose and made the music for the silents were experts in their field and taste – I have never seen a silent with its original music which wasn't impressive. At the same time it's an ingenious movie about the movie industry and gives chilling associations to later double films like "Sunset Boulevard". It's like no other film, which adds to its timelessness. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019071/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The River (1928) (9/10) One of many lost silent masterpieces, but at lest you can see it was a masterpiece. 3 January 2017

This film was a revelation to me of Frank Borzage's true capacities of a very different and more original kind than the later professional films of his that made him world famous, especially the ones with Janet Gaynor. This is a wildly romantic epic of the wilderness in spectacular settings, which in part could have been Frank Borzage's own background and origin. The scenery is fantastic around the river in the mountains with its primitive community, and the story is perfect for that almost surrealistic environment. Charles Farrell is still young here, he hasn't met Janet Gaynor yet, and is the helpless prey of Mary Duncan as an experienced lady with a brutal past without enough sex. Charles fights her temptations, on one occasion he cuts down four trees in succession with just an axe to vent his boiled-up energy and frustration, while she amusedly looks on only the more certain of having him hooked. It's an amazing film in spite of being mutilated, the beginning and finale are missing, but from the added stills you still get the whole story, which ought to have been a wonder of cinematic art if not among Borzage's very best – who knows, but at least you can hope for that it will turn up somewhere – 80% percent of all American silents were lost, while only a fifth have come down to us – so far. But what really lifts the film to impressing heights is the tremendous music, pushing on all the way in sustained tension and perfectly matched to the loaded drama, and it

25


was the music that caught my interest in even this mutilated film of poor technical quality. The music is as fascinating as the drama and the film and its romantic settings, and these different elements add to each other to enhance the vitality and volcanic life of the film. Yes, there is some Rimsky-Korsakov in it, but there is nothing wrong with Rimsky-Korsakov, and the mood of his brief interplay is perfectly suited to that particular moment of intimate intriguing intensity, like all the highly dramatic music to all the rest of the film. This would have been a tenner if it had been complete. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020335/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Lonesome (1928) (10/10) A small and simple love story in the thick of things - this could happen to anybody 19 June 2019

The striking character of this film is its extreme intensity in a fantastic camera work that keeps rushing on in breathless frenzy to the very bitter end of the film. It's almost like a documentary in its constant flow of following the crowds from the working places to the reckless carneval of Coney Island, never leaving the strenuous hard pace of life for one second, except for the moments when the lovers find each other. Then there is a touch of poetry, which also marks the film with a totally different character, which makes it doubly interesting. This film is like no other film, the closest in likeness is actually Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" which also wallows in following the crowds in wild frenzy, but here the lovers provide some privacy and individualism, which is totally missing in Eisenstein's masterpiece, and this is certainly a masterpiece of the same rank but on a different level, for its very human touch of simplicity and basic togetherness. There are also some resemblance to Fritz Lang's "Liliom" with Charles Boyer, which also renders the carneval and wild pleasure hunting in frenzied rush of popular festivity in unforgettable cinematography. Paul Fejos made many documentaries, he was a master and genius in observing and capturing life at its most original and basic level, his documentaries are from Madagascar, South East Asia, Peru apart from Europe and America, he made altogether 44 films, and this is just an example of his extremely personal and highly advanced art of the film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019109/?ref_=tt_urv Applause (1929) (9/10) The revelations of show-business backstage in an impressively barefaced 'noir' from 1928.

26


Almost shocking in its closeness to the real backstage life, this film is like an early 'noir' with a documentary touch in its obvious ambition to unmask show-business and reveal the naked truth about its cynical inhumanity. A mother and a daughter make a heart-rending performance, as the mother wants to rescue her daughter from her own fate as a showgirl being driven to her human ruin by sending her to a convent – the contrast between the convent and the musical stage is the first startling eye-opener and marvellously effective – but from the very start of the film the director's (Mamoulian's)camera eye opens up the bare realism of stage life for the exploitation of girls. It's a masterpiece of its kind, like almost all Mamoulian's films – he is a highly creative director who in each film concentrated on something new and introduced innovations which then matured into standards – he was also guilty of the first Technicolor film. Here he is evidently influenced by Erich von Stroheim in the kind of dissecting realism that dominates the film, but Mamoulian never becomes rude, only shockingly observant. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019644/?ref_=nv_sr_3 Murder! (1930) (9/10) Murder mystery baclstage 12 June 2018

This early Hitchcock feature is full of innovations typical of Hitchcock in his early days of the talkies, which were sometimes wildly experimental, like here. At the same time it's his slowest film, you have to be patient with some trying scenes, but the main asset of the film is the very shrewd story. Two actresses, who have been quarrelling rivals, meet to make peace, which meeting ends with one of them being found dead, battered to death by a poker lying beside her, while the other actress sits paralysed and can't remember anything. She is brought to trial, of course, and the jury seems to take it for granted that she must be guilty, there is no other explanation, while Herbert Marshall is the last jury member to be persuaded to agree on the verdict, which he afterwards regrets, he continues brooding on the issue, and then comes the great shaving scene, which is central in the film. He shaves while there is his monologue, and as the radio playing Wagner's Tristan overture reaches an emotional peak, the clue to the mystery dawns upon him, and he starts his own investigation together with another actor of the theatre. There are many interesting scenes, for instance when the police question the actors during am om-going theatre performance, the famous jury session, striking details such as the loose teeth, and the famous climax, where Hitchcock proves himself fully fledged. The music plays an important part here, especially the circus orchestra sharpens your attention, but the ingenious plot is the main thing. Pardon the slow motion, but it's still definitely Hitchcock. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021165/?ref_=ur_urv 27


The Yellow Ticket (1931) (9/10) Laurence Olivier to the rescue of a Jewish Russian in distress 11 October 2019

Raoul Walsh was never a favourite of mine, I often found his pictures revolting in character and almost inhuman, and this is a particularly disturbing story but the more important for its ruthless realism. It deals with prostitution in tzarist Russia the year before the first world war, it exposes an abyss of social problems and abuse, as the main character Marya Kalish (Elissa Landi) and her family are Jewish and exposed to the tzar's pogroms. Her father ends up in jail and is placed in a dungeon in St. Petersburg, where he gets ill, and the only way for his only daughter to visit him is to acquire a "yellow ticket", a passport for prostitutes, which allows them to go around everywhere, while they have to regularly report to the police. She only avails herself of the ticket to visit her father and never works as a prostitute, although she is troubled enough especially by militaries and Lionel Barrymore as the abominable chief of police. In a critical moment Laurence Olivier as nothing less than a downright Englishman appears as a newspaper man to save her from even worse troubles to come. The finale is tremendous in its chaotic scenes of the outbreak of the war, but it is a good story efficiently told and extremely interesting for its exposure of the conditions of prostitutes in the Russia before the wars, - that only made everything even worse in Russia. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022582/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Les croix de bois (1932) (9/10) The worst of the first world war from a more objective French point of view. 8 January 2015

What makes this film so impressive is its sinister direction, always kept at a calm distance but firm control by Raymond Bernard in visualizing a hell on earth worse than any hell imaginable, as it gives an all too convincing impression of never ending. The central battle scene in the middle of the film gives its definite stamp of a relentlessly realistic documentary in which category it outshines almost all the other first world war films including "All Quiet on the Western Front" (more personal), Rex Ingram's "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (more sentimental), Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" (more theatrical) Renoir's "The Grand Illusion" (more romantic) and "Oh What a Lovely War!" (musical). Not just the long great battle scene, but many scenes give the impression of going on forever, as they are so implacably sustained resulting in an overwhelming impact, like the dying corporal scene with Charles Vanel, who continued a long distinguished career in films with above Henri-Georges Clouzot in the 50s, and his death scene here is only a prelude to

28


what follows – one can understand the veteran from that war who in 1962. when seeing the film on TV, committed suicide afterwards. It's all about ordinary men, good faithful soldiers, who keep on cheering and making the best of it as if the reality of the timeless horror was just something to accept as the ordinary, their natural cheerful moods and the irony of the absurd military self-deceit accentuating the superior quality of this film as the most realistic of first world war films. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022787/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Rain (1932) (9/10) Somerset Maugham's first famous short story, here filmed for the second time out of four. 29 May 2017

This early Joan Crawford and Walter Huston film aroused my interest as it was on the first major short story by Somerset Maugham and one of his most famous and notorious ones, and the film lived well enough up to the story. It is marvellously filmed on location in the south seas giving wonderful insights into the native life of only enjoying paradise, when it isn't raining... A ship on its way to Apia stays in Pago Pago and is detained because of some cholera risk, and among the passengers are Walter Huston, a preacher with his devoted wife, and Joan Crawford as Sadie Thompson, an adventuress of doubtful reputation enjoying life and drinking directly out of the bottle. There are some merry aussies around her, she gets popular, while the preacher isn't happy about her high and noisy life and tries to 'save' her. Apparently he succeeds by sheer consistency but loses something on the way... It's a typical Somerset Maugham story with profound knowledge of human nature and of the ways of women, the dialogue is swell sustained all the way, the acting is perfectly natural, and there is nothing lacking in this film, which intensifies all the way almost amounting to a thriller. The conclusion is terrifically shocking, his stories always strikes home with a final effect, you can always rely on him, and I never saw a film on any of his stories that did not fully live up to his accomplished art of storytelling. Http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023369/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Shanghai Express (1932) (9/10) Long time no see between Peking and Shanghai, between Marlene Dietrich and her ex-lover, with complications... 27 December 2016

29


There are a few scenes in this film that will remain forever in your mind, and if you forget all about the film and its melodrama and exciting intrigue, you will still remember one or even two of those scenes. The first is the fantastic photography of old Peiping, as the train leaves the station and crawls its way out of town with the slums almost touching on the railroad with all the bazaar people hustling around, and then there is a cow on the track, and there is some argument about it... Then there are all the scenes with Marlene, who is the nova of the film that never fades. One of them is Sternberg's focusing on her hands, as she is praying. The clergyman passing by, who has previously condemned her, observes her hands and is transfixed by their expressiveness, and so is the audience – a stroke of genius by Sternberg. The third one is of her agony, as she is certain about having lost Clive. She says nothing, and you don't see her, and then suddenly she raises her face into the light and lets her agony out, but only through her eyes. You will never forget those eyes in that face in just a sparse ray of light. There are many other memorable ingredients as well. One of them is Eugene Palette as Sam Salt, a robust American and always an ace on the screen turning everything infallibly cheerfully comic. Warner Oland (Werner Ölund from Sweden) is a very convincing villain with never a smile on his face only thinking of the victory of his communists, he specialized in Chinese gangster roles and always brought them home, while Anna May Wong is perhaps the most interesting supporting character as the only one who really does something about the troublesome situation. She speaks least of all, which by Sternberg's camera magic makes her presence and acting only the more expressive in its deep impression. Clive Brook may be wooden and expressionless, but it's a joy to hear his perfect diction and wonderful voice, not really up to Ronald Colman, who came later, but a good prelude to all the great swashbucklers that would follow. It's perhaps both Marlene's and Sternberg's best film, he never succeeded better in bringing the best out of her than here, and on the whole it's a fascinating film and story, which could teach anyone a lot – for all ages. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023369/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Die verkaufte Braut (1932) (10/10) One of the most successful operas ever turned into the first opera film by an accomplished master This was the first opera turned into a film, and it's a wild and hilarious experiment – in almost every scene it shines through how the director wallowed in innovations and breakneck experiments – some scenes are absolutely stupendous, like the fighting spree in the night running amok. This vein of good humor is perfectly matched with Smetana's equally wildly hilarious opera, and I am sure Smetana himself would have laughed his sides off. At the same time, it pays careful homage to the genuine idylls of the 1850s, the costumes are totally folklore and rustic, the primitivity is consistent and convincing all the way, the horses are for real with actual wild courses with interesting stunts, but 30


above all Max Ophuls' genius shines through the entire production. It does not contain the whole opera of course, you couldn't do that with the experimental first effort to film an opera, but all the major titbits are there, and you miss nothing of Smetana's best music, which after all sets the final and definite touch of absolute comedy and high-humoured spirituality to the whole work. No opera of Smetana's was more successful, he actually composed ten, and it is still successful yearly at the National Opera of Prague and has remained a stable success world wide on every international scene. Max Ophuls couldn't have failed in using this for the first opera film, and yet he adds to it, with brilliance. I must agree, though, with the previous reviewer, that it badly needs some restoration. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023657/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Number Seventeen (1932) Scary empty house with a corpse, deaf and mute lady and a runaway train, intriguing early Hitchcock masterpiece 9/10 13 August 2017

The first time I saw this picture I found it overwhelming, the third time it was still overwhelming. Hitchcock really played his game in this picture using all available tricks concerning both photography, effects, intrigue and above all constantly towering suspense. All is experienced from poor Ben's point of view, who is scared out of his wits from the start by the dead man's hand and all that follows. The intrigue is ingenious in its complexity, and you never get it all the first time, maybe not even the second, maybe not even the third, but it's logical all the same. The whole story is just some gangsters trying to run away, but poor Ben understands nothing and only gradually gets into one detail after the other. Even the cliffhangers are used at large and are immediately followed by worse ones. It's dynamic dynamite all the way in the development of a thriller intrigue, and not until the very end at last something is explained, and naturally, poor Ben saves the situation. Or else it would not have been Hitchcock http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023285/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Blood of a Poet (1932) (5/10) A meaningless fantasmagoria of nonsense 14 February 2020

This is the first part in Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus” trilogy and a very immature sort of experimental film of only meaningless surrealism. There are a few interesting scenes,

31


at least visually, but the whole thing is nonsense and a sort of childish whim of a film. There is no story, no message, no dialogue, no sense and no reason for it – it is just eccentric cinematic expressionism and exhibitionism for nothing, in total contrast to Cocteau’s fantastically realistic films after the war. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021331/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 14 February 2020

Turn Back the Clock (1933) (9/10) Virtuoso story construction resulting in a marvel of realistic imagination. 21 July 2017

This is worth seeing for its amazing story, which although fantastic is completely logical all the way. It's Ben Hecht, of course, and at his best, working together with Edgar Selwyn to produce a cinematic wonder of plot and imagination, playing with destiny and accomplishing a wonder of plausibility in spite of its character of total conjecture. The only problem of the film is Lee Tracy's acting, which is rather exhausting, since he is constantly overdoing it. Maybe that was the fashion of actors in the early 30s, but today it's just annoying. The other actors are doing alright, especially the two ladies and Otto Kruger, but it's the plot that is the main thing of this film. Who hasn't one time or another dreamt of reliving one's life and doing it over again but better? That's what happens to Joe Gimlet, he gets an alternative chance and really makes the best of it and everything he wanted to do different, and still it all goes wrong... The most ingenious thing about the story construction is how it is combined with the story he left behind, he meets the same people but under different circumstances and making different careers, and so in the end he finds his best friend, president of the National Bank, in his own original position as a petty shop owner. Ben Hecht was in his prime throughout the 30s, beginning with "Front Page", bringing forth a flood of script masterpieces, until he was allowed to make a film of his own, "The Specter of the Rose", an ambitious art film of ballet, very much ahead of its time, which flopped, so he was never allowed to make another movie. Still he continued writing excellent scripts, but his sharpest edge was lost. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024704/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Berkeley Square (1933) (10/10)

32


Time travel in the 1930s causing confusion in 1784, as if 1933 wasn't enough... 3 April 2018

This is a delightfully ingenious comedy with Leslie Howard in one of his most spiritual roles, transmuting between 1784 and 1933. The conversation is enjoyably brilliant throughout like in all Leslie Howard's films, and so is the charming music. Frank Lloyd made some of the best films in the 1930s, and this is one of them although rather forgotten today and neglected while its wit transcends practically everything in the 30s. Particularly amusing is the play with confusions, and even Sir Joshua Reynolds is involved in it and is terrified. This is one of those many outstanding old films that are worth restoring and rediscovering indeed. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023794/?ref_=ur_urv To the Last Man (1933) (8/10) Randolph Scott getting a hard time taking on a hostile family of scoundrels 7 November 2019

In this early Hathaway western epic, Hathaway tests the limits and is not afraid of crossing them. It’s a vendetta drama, two families being at odds with each other, and it is unfortunately too obvious who is the wicked part and who you have to side with. You never learn why Colby shot old grandpa, which is a flaw in the story. There are a few yawns on the way, but the drama gets speeded up towards the end to reach quite an impressing finale. Jack la Rue is the leading scoundrel, while Randolph Scott somehow never quite managed to make himself credible on screen. Maybe he was too handsome, which maybe was what made his career, but he never made it as a great character. The film is still worth watching for its dramatic structure with great tensions consistently building up, but it is only a prelude to Hathaway’s later very significant production of realism in great films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024674/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) (10/10) Don Juan as a comedy putting all previous tragedies and dramas to shame... 10 January 2016

For once a Don Juan comedy and with a vengeance – it's a delightful entertainment all the way sugared and spiced with witty ironies galore, where the great Douglas Fairbanks takes the prize in a final victory over the legend of both himself and Don Juan by surviving both with even the crown of a happy ending. The film is studded with a generosity of festivity scenes, each one transcending the other, while the irony celebrates triumphs all the way, especially at Don Juan's own 33


great funeral enjoyed by himself and the final great theatre scene, when he explains to the audience that he really is Don Juan with only roars of laughter for a response. This is magnificent entertainment of the 30s at its best, a feast for the eyes as well as for the intelligence, the script is a wonder of ingenious innovations, the dialogue outwits itself all the time sustaining the comedy vein at a high level with constantly new surprises, and the music isn't bad either. Don Juan is at last allowed to celebrate his ultimate victory! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025681/?ref_=nv_sr_7

The Thin Man (1934) (10/10) A drinking detective with his wife on the wagon resolves some murders with their dog. 5 March 2015

A drinking detective with his wife on the wagon resolves some murders with their dog: Still more hilarious than ever after 80 years and better than most comedies made since, in its well mixed cocktail of screwball comedy and serious murder stuff – the murder doesn't occur until after 20 minutes and many drinks, which most of the film is decently decorated with, including Christmas parties and many other drinks and parties, keeping the intrigue and comedy going all through the film, while the drinking detective just keeps plodding on in resolving the perfectly impossible murder case, which no one else would have been able to get any head or tail out of. Maybe the dog Asta with her constant intrusions helps the case progressing and adding to the very entertaining tempo. The real thriller doesn't set in until after the first hour, with the dog really adding to it. The triumph of the film though is the sustained witty dialogue, which never tires off or stops shooting with hits every time. Wonderful to see it again after half a century – hope to see it again after another half century. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025878/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Painted Veil (1934) (9/10) Garbo with Somerset Maugham in China with cholera, 26 September 2017

It's a spectacular film, and its magic almost endures until the end, which unfortunately falls flat, abandoning Maugham. You can't do that to Maugham. As far as I know, every single story of his that was filmed, and they were many, were great films, and this is the only one raising a question mark. Was that miserable

34


phony syrup happy end really necessary? Garbo carries the whole film on her shoulders, her magic is here more shining and almost blinding than ever, especially in the beginning, before she gets married, which of course has to end up in disaster – you can't marry a Garbo, not even Herbert Marshall, who actually tries and makes the best of it, but apparently he learned nothing from his previous failure with Marlene Dietrich in "Blonde Venus", where he made the same mistake and got furious of jealousy, but here at least he is not vindictive but rather sacrifices himself, and almost gets Greta Garbo lynched by the Chinese mob as well. Still, he is greatly to be preferred to the even more wooden George Brent, who hasn't found his Bette Davis here yet. Still he seduces Greta, although he is married, and when Herbert Marshall wants to divorce Greta, George Brent doesn't want to divorce HIS wife, which complicates the situation... There were several fantastic Chinese films made in the 30s, and this was just another of them and in some ways the most outstanding of them all. They all do resemble each other, Sternberg's "Shanghai Express", Capra's "Lost Horizon", Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth", Sternberg's "The Shanghai Gesture", Mankiewicz' "The Keys of the Kingdom" and perhaps the greatest of them all, although it took place in Singapore, another great Somerset Maugham film, William Wyler's "The Letter" with a very proper Chinese vengeance on Bette Davis; but this one maybe comes closest to China in the 30s, the scenes from Hong Kong are a joy of genuineness, and the chaos scenes from the interior that finalizes the film complete the Chinese situation of the 30s. It's one Garbo's most unusual films, suddenly she is quite a normal woman, but what a woman! No wonder both men go mad about her, her natural beauty as a normal Austrian is even more striking here than in "Christina", and it's a great film in its intensity and passion and above all its successful and impressive capture of the 30s of China. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025617/?ref_=nv_sr_2 British Agent (1934) (9/10) Leslie Howard in the thick of things in the Russian revolution 3 August 2018

Much better than its reputation, this film has been treated rather unfairly by ignorants who haven't bothered to look deeper into it, like also other films of the Russian revolution, especially Sternberg's "The Last Command" and Marlene Dietrich's "Knight Without Armour", perhaps the best film of the Russian revolution. This one however is outstanding for the fact that it deals directly with reality. Bruce Lockhart, who lived through this story himself, happened to be a legate at the British Embassy in Petersburg when the crisis grew crucial, and later was in the thick of things in Moscow. He was the one who told the story of Sidney Reilly and his conspiracies and efforts to save Russia, and he later played an important part in the Second World War as Churchill's right hand in the propaganda war against Germany. He wrote a series of extremely interesting memoirs and was also in the centre of things in Prague 1948 when Jan Masaryk was defenestrated and the communists took over. Leslie Howard makes a very credible and true 35


characterization of Lockhart's critical ordeals in the heart of the revolution at a loss against the lack of initiative, resolution and political insight in London. He and Reilly could have saved Russia from the communists, if London had responded. This film romanticizes the drama, of course, with some exaggerations and focusing too much on Kay Francis, while Lenin's would be murderess was much more interesting - she is only shown in the deed. Although between "Of Human Bondage" and "Captain Blood", "British Agent" hardly deserves to be neglected. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024915/ Twentieth Century (1934) (10/10) A comedy too good and brilliant to be quite acceptable for your digestion 24 October 2019

John Barrymore and Carole Lombard make the virtuoso couple driving erach other to extremes from beginning to end. Some will find it tiresome, but you must admit that it is superb acting all the way and even excuse the constant overacting for its dramatic excellence. As a comedy it is a bit on the superficial side, the plot is not very strong, but the splendid acting compensates for all the flaws. It's Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur at the height of their writing powers, and Howard Hawks like Carole Lombard and John Barrymore simply follow suit. It's a masterpiece of its kind, the grand finale on the train with one of the funniest maniacs ever seen on the screen creating havoc by only having the best intentions, one of the most interesting characters ever invented by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, matching the best of screwball comedies if not transcending them all, ranks on the top of all comedies ever.. You will laugh your guts out, but you will probably never have the urge or energy to bear with seeing it once again. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025919/?ref_=tt_urv A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) (9/10) Love magic complications involving the royal court of Theseus in Athens, elves and goblins, an amateur theater company and many more. You could hardly stumble over anything more heart-warming. Too much ahead of its time, it flopped in 1935 and has only gradually reached some appropriate recognition in later years. Everything in this production is ingenious, especially the fantastic innovations of using Mendelssohn's music all the way, letting a child play Puck (Mickey Rooney, probably the best Puck ever,) the use of natural sequences with wild animals in between, the fantastic fantasies with the elves and their dances, the most convincing Titania ever (Anita Louise? Anyone heard of her anywhere else?) and maybe above all, James Cagney, of all people, as Bottom. He almost succeeds in stealing the whole show, but the greatest credit is due to the almost exaggeratedly (in a good sense) creative directors, Max Reinhardt and Wilhelm Dieterle, both in exile

36


from Germany at the time. Also very refreshing to see Dick Powell and Olivia De Havilland, two of the most 'noir' stars of the 40s, so young, gay and beautiful. A theater performance on the screen at its best, next to 10 full points, places even the Michelle Pfeiffer version of 1999 in the shadow. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026714/?ref_=nv_sr_7 Les MisĂŠrables (1935) (7/10) Tolerable short cut version of one of the greatest novels 4 June 2016

I thought I had seen them all, but then as a surprise this one appeared with the blatant curiosity of Charles Laughton as Javert. Of course you couldn't miss such an opportunity, no matter what it purported. Of course, it was worth seeing especially for Charles Laughton, who is an unusually nasty police here, a police of the very worst sort, all formality and no humanity, but he makes it amazingly convincing – there actually are such policemen. Frederic March is not bad as Jean Valjean, and for once, perhaps the only time in the cinema, you are able to see Jean Valjean as a young and handsome man – even his sister is with him in the introduction scene. Cedric Hardwicke as the bishop, perhaps the most important character in the whole novel, doesn't have to make any effort into his part, it is all written and can't be made any worse by anyone, and he actually adds some humor to it, lacking in Victor Hugo. The question has been raised what Victor Hugo would have thought. This film was made only a year after the great French masterpiece of five hours by Raymond Bernard, the best and truest film on "Les Miserables", although even that fools around with Hugo a bit, but this American version is unfortunately the worst. The character of Jean Valjean is missing, as Frederic March thoroughly overdoes it, while the very strength in the character lies in his absolute self control, which is spoilt here, compensated somewhat by Laughton's all too true performance. Worst is the child Cosette, who preludes Shirley Temple. John Beal as Marius is a positive surprise, while the important part of Gavroche is missing altogether. Still it's an exciting film, it must be the most abbreviated version of "Les Miserables" ever made, and you pardon its gross coarseness and vulgarization of the novel since it's still after all the same novel, perhaps the greatest ever written. Victor Hugo would not have liked this film version much, especially not after the great French version the year before, but he would have tolerated it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026725/?ref_=nv_sr_3

Roberta (1935) (9/10)

37


Ginger and Fred out of the ordinary in exotic fashion circles in Paris 30 September 2015

This is in some ways the most interesting Astaire-Rodgers film, particularly because for once they don't dominate the whole film, which instead has some very different aspects to offer than just glittering show entertainment. It's really the story of a fashion centre in Paris, Roberta being the old legendary proprietress, who unexpectedly exits, leaving Fred and others to take over the business, which they can't handle. But the real story is something else: in the centre Irene Dunne represents an exiled Russian princess with an interesting circle of other Russian aristocrats, one of them being heir to the throne. The atmosphere of Russian exiles in Paris is intimately conveyed with warming conviction, at the heart of which complications the song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" makes a lasting impact, involving the Princess' tragic love affair with a good-for-nothing American standing in the bar getting drunk and rude (Randolph Scott in a pathetic and almost vulgar performance – how Irene Dunne could love him and with continuity is a mystery.) The music pervades the whole film weaving it into a web of beauty, nostalgia and magic, enhanced by the overwhelming beauty of the mannequins parading now and then with dream haute-coutures out of this world. It's a very singular film, completely out of the ordinary for Ginger and Fred, but still of course gilded by their performances, here highlighted by some of their very finest momentums. Grossly neglected, underrated, almost forgotten and misunderstood, this is one of their films to never forget but always return to. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026942/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Divine (1935) (10/10) The milkman always calls twice Another neglected and underrated masterpiece by Max Ophuls – it's amazing how even the oldest films by him surprise you with their brilliant camera work, the breakneck direction, the amazing scenography always crowded with picturesque details, the totally convincing environment and the perfect realization of the most impossible plots with amassed complications! – of which this film is the perfect example. The chaos at the theatre is so real, that every detail of the intricacies of every single person – and they are many – is brought to full light and glory in a wonder of minute visualization. Forget Colette and her silly and banal story, this is a feast for the eyes all the way offering even some thriller elements and worrying excitement – the criminal intrigues back stage are no small matter and astoundingly modern – this is the 70s back in the 30s. To this comes the delightful French charm of the idyllic set-ups both in the country and in the theatre, with those for Ophuls so typically hair-raising moving camera sequences catching up even what no ordinary eye would see in passing. The music is perfect as well, never dominating but always enhancing what is going on. The closeups, the intimate moments of secrecy and revelations caught almost furtively, the lurid characters, everything combines to a masterpiece of intoxicating brilliance, –

38


but it is the cinematic imagery above all that makes the film, yet another masterpiece by Ophuls definitely worth rediscovering and upgrading. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026280/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Informer (1935) (10/10) John Ford's Irish masterpiece was much ahead of its time and is still looming as a cinematic milestone. 3 February 2017

John Ford had the knack like no one else of turning his films into poetry. It's visual, expressionistic and above all human poetry, since he had a very delicate understanding of human nature. This most clearly comes forth in his Irish films. His parents were from Ireland, and when he embarks on Irish or related subjects (like Wales) he does it with a very a intimate relationship and touch with his people and story. He makes human nature emerge almost titanically even when it's only about very ordinary people. In this film the so called hero is an extreme antihero. He has and does everything wrong. He is big and superior but only in muscles and size, while his brains are completely lacking – he doesn't know at all what he is doing but acts only on impulse and thus unawares brings his own tragedy. His long and great fall is tremendous. He is the buddy of a freedom fighter, and his one desire is for a certain common lady called Katie, with whom he wants to go to America away from the political disturbances and atrocities going on in Ireland in 1922. Without job and at odds with both the English and his own freedom organization, he desperately clinches at the possibility of getting money quick, by informing on his buddy. Naturally there are consequences. As he is completely irresponsible, he has no idea of what havoc he is causing in putting his own life at risk, which he cares least about of all. He gets his money, but instead of going to Katie and buying his freedom ticket, he wastes it all on a merrygo-round hullabaloo along the pubs of Dublin. Victor McLaglen makes an awesome figure in this tremendous and very Irish drama, that couldn't be more Irish. Carol Reed was much influenced by this film in making his masterpiece "Odd Man Out" twelve years later, and there are many interesting parallels between the films. To this comes the music. In the silents the composers learned the art of making the music enhance the drama of the films, and in this film that art is celebrating triumphs. It's almost as if Max Steiner's music underlines every action and every conversation in the drama. This is the perfect Irish film. That's the least you can say about it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026529/?ref_=nv_sr_1

39


Becky Sharp (1935) (9/10) The friends Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley set out for marital affairs in the shadow of the Waterloo campaign – with consequences and complications. Rouben Mamoulian (birthday today 4.12) was always ahead of his time. This was the first full color feature (1935!) based on William Thackeray's "Vanity Fair", one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, full of literary splendor, transported on the screen not without success. Mamoulian's last film was "Silk Stockings" (1957) with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, but he also started on "Porgy and Bess" (completed by Otto Preminger) and "Cleopatra" (1962, completed by Joe Mankiewicz). – With its striking gallery of great actors, like Allan Mowbray, Nigel Bruce ("Dr Watson"), Cedric Hardwicke, Billie Burke and Miriam Hopkins among others, it is great theater all the way in Mamoulian's characteristic lushness and splendor of vivacity and imagery in very innovative direction – the feature is above all a feast to the eyes and an amazing film in spite of its almost 80 years – and impressing as the first full length color film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026104/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Break of Hearts (1935) (9/10) We only see the hints of a great fatal passion of music and love, as the film is cut short. 7 October 2017

What's wrong with this film, since so many seem to only come with objections? Yes, there is one big thing wrong with it. It's a novel cut short into a short story. It's a great story, but large parts of it are missing. This could have been made into a great film, but instead it became a great small film. It's not even 80 minutes, but you still catch glimpses of enormous passions and a monumental tragedy, a great musician giving up music, which just can't be done, as the old maestro says: a musician is never through with music. Charles Boyer thinks he is, and his impersonation of a fallen conductor to the dregs of the left-overs from a shabby bar after closing time is more than convincing – he has really lost himself, since he gave all his love to Katharine Hepburn, at her youngest och freshest and most charming splendour of youth, but she had her special woman's pride (like no other woman) and saw him through with his hollowness of a womanizing diva, but as the real woman she was she had the power to give it back again. The scene when he is conducting Bach and hardly can stand on his feet, reeling and conducting like Oliver Hardy is monumental in itself, and the whole (short) film is worth seeing only for this. Charles Boyer is always an unforgettable experience on the screen and maybe particularly so when he plays diva musicians. It's always a remake of Liliom in greater glory than ever.

40


And how delightful to see Katharine Hepburn really young and sparkling, and her fantastic sense of dressing in style is already here amazing, as it was in every film she made. She always had a style of her own outshining everyone else, whoever she played against. Here Charles Boyer was a serious challenging match for her, and an interesting couple they make, which just has to go wrong, since they both are too brilliant for their own good, especially together... It's like two stars colliding. There has to be an explosion with fatal consequences, ruin and tears and bitter aftermaths of wounds that never could heal, - but Katharine Hepburn could never fall without rising again, and here she can even raise the shambles of Charles Boyer back to life. It's not just Hollywood. It's how music works. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026134/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Phantom Light (1935) (9/10) The terror of the lighthouse in the fog leading ships to wreckage, with madmen in charge of the casualties 27 March 2019

Michael Powell's genius is exploding in wondrous innovations and marvels of imagination already in this early film about Wales. The introduction sets the mood, when a Welsh woman as the station master comes to greet a train with its passenger, the new lighthouse guard, in a fantastic local rural costume like a witch and speaking no word of English but only Welsh,. The hysterical intrigues and events are very much reminding of Hitchcock's "Number Seventeen" three years earlier, the same kind of mix of terror and madness, eccentrics and cluster of colliding events, getting grimmer all the time, but the local atmosphere is the dominating charm. It's about wreckers using the local people's readiness for superstition to operate their wicked business, Hitchcock was to use the same theme in "Jamaica Inn" four years later, and both films are equally successful and irresistibly charming and exciting. There is no Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara here, but instead you have Gordon Harker who is the right man for the job, although he gets too much to handle. The story is terrific, and Michael Powell was to use much of the same vein in his later masterpiece "I Know Where I Am Going" in Scotland ten years later. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026868/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Scoundrel (1935) (10/10) Noel Coward turning into a ghost 20.September 2019

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur had an academy award for best script, and no wonder. The story is very much related with Ferenc Molnar's "Liliom" (filmed a number of times even by Fritz Lang and even turned into a musical) and tells about

41


the same story of redemption. Noel Coward is as excellent here as Charles Boyer in Fritz Lang's film. He is an unbearable snob and as vicious as a serpent as an unscrupulous publisher who decides to couple with a young poetess who is already engaged. There is more than one duel as a consequence in this film. When Cora finally sees through Noel Coward and rejects him, she curses him by hoping for him to have an aircrash accident, which he has. Then he turns into a totally different character. The music is also very well chosen for this picture, wildly romantic at times, and finally turning into Rachmaninov's second piano concerto (but without piano) .like in Noel Coward's perhaps most personal drama and film, "Brief Encounter" with David Lean 1947. It's the scipt above all that deserves momentous credits for its sustained wit and intelligence. All the characters are convincing, from the innocence of Cora to the bathos of Paul Dekker and all the parasites around Coward. It could be seen as a major effort of Noel Coward, in making this character, to prove himself human after all, in which he succeeds. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026970/?ref_=tt_urv The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) (9/10) The tragedy of frustrated love which jealousy fatally gets the better of 9 October 2019

The film has taken great pains to do the Dickens moods justice in the cathedral corridors and cryptic vaults, with fogs and choir boys, and Claude Rains enhances the realism of the Dickens spirit. This was Dickens' last novel and left unfinished, but after the last chapter it's already obvious who the murderer is, and the film adaptations, especially this, have simply followed the logical consequences of Dickens' hints. When you have read the novel you must draw the conclusion, that it was unnecessary for Dickens to finish it, and that's maybe why Dickens just didn't the main thing had already been told. The Jasper figure is one of Dickens' eeriest and most debatable characters, a church singer in Christian service who leads a double life, and the novel and story seems to be something of an effort to probe into the phenomenon of double characters with double lives. He actually loves his nephew and his becoming bride, but he is so infatuated with the bride and frustrated by his personal sexual shortcomings that he is on the verge of a breakdown and falls to the temptation of losing control - which he finds reason to bitterly regret afterwards. So the novel is actually a tragedy, and the film follows suit and takes the consequences at full length - at which Dickens himself hesitated and died. Both the novel and Claude Rains make the Jasper figure unforgettable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026758/?ref_=tt_urv 42


Captian Blood (1935) (9/10) Errol Flynn’s triumphant debut as leading swashbuckler for the rest of his life 12 February 2020

Seeing this swashbuckler classic again after so many decades, it remains surprisingly fresh in its dashing splendour, while the highlight is when Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone start business together, culminating in the greatest sword fight of the film. By all means, the film is full of fights and especially sea fights, but the final stettlement between the two pirate captains stands out in film history. Olivia de Havilland here is too young and beautiful to be fully recognizable, but all actors are brought to their best by the ruthless but expert director. It is still after 85 years without comparison as one of the most dashing swashbuckler entertainments ever made. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026174/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Un grand amour de Beethoven (1936) (5/10) A pretentious effort to glorify Beethoven falling down to bathos all the way. 14 May 2015

A disaster of a film. Everything is wrong. Nothing works, except the costumes, the one thing in the film which deserves admiration. Beethoven himself is totally unconvincing as a big fat lurch, while in reality he was small and inconspicuous. The intentions of the film are honest and good enough but fail miserably. The invented story is illustrated by the master's music, but the constant repetition of the first bars of the fifth symphony to point out the call of Beethoven's destiny becomes annoying for its debility. The film consists of exaggerations which spoil any possibility of any dramaturgy or realism. The final death scene is unbearably painful, since he never seems to die. The women cry incessantly all through the film turning it into a sentimental mess. They deserve better credit though than Harry Baur as Beethoven for at least being pretty and nice to look at. This is one of the most awkward films I have seen, perhaps though biased by the deeply convincing impression made by the outstanding Beethoven film with Gary Oldman 1994, a completely different version of "The Immortal Beloved" and also a total fake, but so much better and even realistically convincing. This effort to enthrone Beethoven as some kind of divine icon ("I believe in God and in Beethoven." – Richard Wagner, the motto of the film) is a total bathos of a turkey, and the intended apotheosis is only growing constantly more pathetic all the way. There are some sparkling moments, though, where Abel Gance's genius in spite of all succeeds in shining through, in fact, all the actors except Beethoven are quite good, especially the young Jean-Louis Barrault as the dashing nephew, but even in that case the film fails in making something out of the Beethoven drama. In reality, his nephew Karl tried to commit suicide, which was

43


Beethoven's final spiritual death blow. It is not even hinted at here, and yet the film pretends to tell the story of Beethoven. It IS the story of Beethoven, but Beethoven himself is missing, and there is nothing in it but Abel Gance's absurdly vain pretensions. Sorry, any Beethoven film is better than this one. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028438/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Swing Time (1936) (9/10) Fred and Ginger in full swing at their best 5 February 2019

This is a delightful comedy where evrything works out to the best, and it’s even worth seeing several times. The dances are the highlights of course, they are absolutely impressing, and you can understand that at times it would take 42 retakes before everything was perfect, what a hard job, but it was worth it – Fred drove Ginger hard, but she did not complain but made the best of it, and when two make the best of it, the optimal results double. The music by Jerome Kern is also among his best, and all these assets unite to make one of the best musical and dancing comedies ever made – perhaps second only to ”Top Hat”. Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly are often compared with each other, Fred often described as dancing upwards while Kelly is more down to earth. But the real difference between them is that Fred is always romantic, while Gene really isn’t but more acrobatic instead – he always insisted on doing his own stunts. The major highlight of this film though is Fred’s solo, when he dances with some coloured associates, gradually reduced to three, who are shadows of himself – it is a marvel of inventive cinematography, as his three shadows eventually fall out of rhythm and separate in disagreement. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028333/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Beloved Enemy (1936) (9/10) Irish freedom fighters also battling their own fanatics 17 April 2019

This is not a true story, although it is highly inspired by the Irish liberation war and conveys well enough the sentiments and main structure and development of the difficult struggle, where the most sensible ones were the most prone to get killed by fanatics for being diplomatic. The character this film makes you think of is Michael Collins, who described about the same development of character as Brian Aherne does, but Michael Collins was ultimately killed by his own. Here the drama is

44


soothed and balanced by the lovely Merle Oberon, who was not too famous yet but the more enchanting for her youth, seconded by the equally youthful David Niven in the most important supporting part and making a very elegant and gentlemanly impression. The drama is very Irish, you have seen these problems and passions of fanatics and freedom fighters in almost every Irish film, and they are all of outstanding power and interest for their drama and fervent pathos. This is just one of a large number of all those Irish freedom passion plays, while all the best ones are more tragic. Here Merle Oberon gets the better of the tragedy.

Lloyds of London (1936) (10/10) Ups and downs in the naval business with Tyrone Power at his youngest and best 31 July 2019

This is a thoroughly enjoyable film which will keep your interest and attention sustained through two hours with constantly intensified excitement and fascination, as 35 years roll by of Jonathan Blake's dramatic life as an insurance agent at Lloyd's, starting in 1770 and ending up at Trafalgar. It's actually a Nelson film, although he isn't seen much (except as a boy) he is the red thread of the film and the backbone of the story. Jonathan Blake is a poor urchin who finds Horatio Nelson as a lifetime friend from boyhood onward, although they never see each other again after Nelson has joined the navy as a young midshipman. But the most interesting part of the film is the insight into how Lloyd's worked during the years, the office and its routines have been recreated with astounding accuracy, almost as if made like a documentary on the rise and crises of the great ship insurance company. Freddie Bartholomew plays Blake as a boy who grows up into Tyrone Power in one of his very early roles, but it's actually one of his best. His character remains fascinating throughout, challenged by George Sanders in his first American film as one of his typical wicked rogues - he and Tyrone Power would meet as enemies again in other films, and George Sanders will try to get him killed again. It's one of the best and greatest of the fine biopics of the 30s. and it has withstood the changing of times very well, just like the old firm Lloyds of London. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027902/ The Black Legion (1937) (8/10) Humphrey Bogart young and innocent to begin with and going all the way to the worst 30.12.2017

This is a shocking and horrible story of a most ordinary and honest factory worker who gets bypassed in promotion and can't get over his humiliation. Opportunity brings him into contact with a Ku Klux Klan-like racist secret society, in which he gets caught in a dwindling vicious circle of constantly worse incrimination. The film

45


is a glaring warning, it is over-obvious in its message, but it is well done, it is shockingly realistic, it does convince you that this is how a secret society of that kind works, and you can't get into deeper trouble than getting stuck in such claws. The question here and the worry of the audience is nor however there could be an obligatory happy ending to this mess, the concern is rather obviously the degree of how bad it will end. Humphrey Bogart makes an unforgettable performance though, his anguish in the end is on par with a Shakespeare tragedy performance, and he was here only in the beginning of his career. He is a type of his own, he is always himself in all his films, and yet that character he develops every time into new idiosyncracies - although he is always the same he is always new. And here he is young and fresh and almost even handsome - to begin with. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027367/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Good Earth (1937) (9/10) A poor farmer takes a former slave girl for his wife, who repeatedly proves the salvation of his life. 12 January 2015

This film is a wonder to behold in view of its circumstances. It's an all-American film but tells a story of China which lacks nothing in its convincing realism. Most convincing of all are the actors with Paul Muni (Austrian) and Luise Rainer (German Jewess) in the leads. Even the music has successfully been given a convincing Chinese touch, although any musician will recognize some borrowings from Puccini's opera 'Turandot'. Without animation and computer possibilities, the realism still reaches staggering heights in visualizing the revolution scenes in the city and the horrors of the locust plague. There are scenes'here that will stay in your mind forever. So much praise has already been poured on this classical epic that it's difficult to find anything else to say, except to underline the marvelous acting by Paul Muni and Luise Rainer, a Chinese farmer and his wife, a former slave, humble peasant people but still totally convincing in their so thoroughly genuine characters. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028944/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Fire over England (1937) (10/10) Laurence Olivier as young and fresh, James Mason his equal, Vivien Leigh and Flora Robson as the Queen of Queens – what more could you possibly want? I loved this film almost to the end, when unfortunately the propaganda program of the 30s took over and changed the drama into disturbing chauvinism. Well, that was the 30s, and you have to view it in that context, but until you get caught in the hullabaloo of the great armada, it's a perfect film in every way, especially

46


dramatically. The dialogue never loses its pregnancy, all the characters are outstanding, the many plots are interwoven into an expert fabric, and the actors are evidently enjoying their excellence themselves. It's the only film where James Mason and Laurence Olivier act together, they never meet in the film, but Laurence is given the pleasure of standing in for James and does it well – you are actually struck by how like each other they are. Robert Newton is also here in an early part as a Spaniard and for once not overdoing it, while Flora Robson runs the show – there never was a better or more convincing Queen Elizabeth. There is only one shocking scene in the whole film, and that's where Elizabeth unmasks herself. It seems that Flora Robson really has gotten into Elizabeth. Leslie Banks is a very credible Robin Dudley, and Vivien introduces the film as a flippant 18-year old or young lady in waiting, a granddaughter of Burleigh's. Nothing is missing of the glorious era of England's resistance as a small nation against an overwhelming superpower, and everything is fresh and vital, even the Spaniards, and Raymond Massey makes a very brief but entirely realistic portrait of Philip II. This is a film to thoroughly enjoy still today, Laurence Olivier is even better than Errol Flynn, this was his and Vivien's first film together, while the great theme is not the armada but the ideological conflict – the freedom of conscience against the autodafés of Spain, which is well pointed out already in the beginning of the film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028872/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Elephant Boy (1937) (8/10) The film follows Kipling's story closely about the sensitivity to nature, which a child is more successful in than restricted grownups. Zoltan Korda was the middle of the three great Korda brothers of the cinema, (Alexander the eldest and Vincent the youngest) specializing in outdoor films, like this one (on Kipling's "Toomai of the Elephants") and ten years later the still best film adaptation of "The Jungle Book", both with Sabu as the main character. Robert Flaherty (1884-1951) was an important film documentary pioneer with many classics to his credit, like "Nanook of the North", the first commercially successful film documentary (1922) which he directed and produced. With Zoltan Kodaly, he was co-director of this film, probably the best elephant film ever made, which still impresses by its unequaled elephant scenes, including a great score by John Greenwood. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028827/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Under Two Flags (1937) (7/10) Desert adventures with the foreign legion and Ronald Colman in a great novel reduced to Hollywood 29 April 2017

47


Unfortunately, Ouida's great classical novel of dishonor, exile, love, war and sacrifice in Algeria with the French foreign legion has not been awarded with that great film script it deserves. A deep tragedy of human greatness has been transformed into a rather superficial Hollywood romance entertainment, where even Ronald Colman makes a rather poor figure, far from the sadly noble hero of the original. Nevertheless, it's a Frank Lloyd film, who also made "Cavalcade" and "Mutiny on the Bounty", and there are great moments, especially of the desert scenery. Claudette Colbert as Cigarette is the real star of the film, though, but then she is also the most memorable character in the novel. Rosalind Russell is good enough and adds some heart-warming romance, while the worst failure of the film is the alteration of the grim reality of the French foreign legion with a sinister discipline worse than that of the 'Bounty' into some loose barrack ballads with plenty of brandy. The grim nature of the colonel in the novel is deleted, and Victor McLaglen is only Victor McLaglen, whom you can't take seriously. It's a good enough entertainment but not more than that, while the novel is so much more. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028442/?ref_=nv_sr_1 History is Made at Night (1937) (10/10) Frank Borzage, Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur celebrating passionate triumphs 26 July 2017

This is one of Frank Borzage's greatest films, in its amazing mixture of comedy and drama, tragedy and passion and, like in all his films, the redemption by destiny. Charles Boyer is, as always, the perfect lover and both supreme and totally convincing as such, while Jean Arthur with her husky voice, trying to get away from the jealous clutches of her cruel husband, is the right girl to fall in his arms, and it happens in such a way (by destiny), that she can but laugh out her husband, who by his intrigues planned the opposite and accidentally opened her real love life. There are many aspects to this film, and the art of cooking plays an important part with Leo Carrillo more important as the chef than the multimillionaire Colin Clive, the mortally jealous husband, who will stop at nothing to get his wife back and thereby only causes derailments. At the same time it's a great catastrophe film, both Hindenburg and Titanic are reminded of, but you'll never guess what really happens. Charles Boyer was definitely one of the greatest lovers in film history, if not the greatest, more convincing as such than even Rudolf Valentino, and you can always rely on his acting. He made some of the greatest of all love films, like "Love Affair" with Irene Dunne (remade many times) and "All This and Heaven Too" with Bette Davis, and this one of Frank Borzage's should not be overlooked in the context, Jean Arthur once more being the right girl in the right place. Their scene at Victor's is one of the great moments of truth in the annals of romantic films. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029002/?ref_=nv_sr_1

48


The Life of Emile Zola (1937) (10/10) Paul Muni and William Dieterle working together to make the greatest of biopics.,. 22 September 2017

This is probably both William Dieterle's and Paul Muni's best film. It is monumental in its towering pathos of justice, which actually reduces Zola to a mere second character, while the central character is the awesome Dreyfus affair with its character assassination by intentional gross injustice. It was the greatest judicial scandal in the 19th century and perhaps in history, and it is very well presented in the film, especially by minor details, as the scenes from Devil's Island, when Dreyfus fettered to his bed (for security) tries to read Zola's book under his bed and finds it infested with insects, and when his release is illustrated by his incredulousness, walking out of his cell again and again, and returning in to walk out once again. The first quarter of the film is the weakest and least historically correct, "Nana" was far from Zola's first literary success and actually only a minor novel compared to "Gervaise" and "Germinal" for instance, which are not even mentioned. The last three quarters of the film are all about the Dreyfus affair, crowned with Zola's glowing articles and speeches in court, splendidly delivered by Paul Muni, well aware of what opportunity he had here to excel himself in acting and making more than the best of it. All other actors are excellent as well and startlingly convincing every one of them, from Esterhazy and the generals to the ladies and wives, while CĂŠzanne alone is a little shadowy. It's a tremendous film, I saw it as a child 55 years ago and have never forgotten it, and at last I found an opportunity to see it again, and it was exactly equally impressing and moving. William Dieterle made many excellent films, he was German and worked with Murnau, Max Reinhardt, Marlene Dietrich (co-director with Reinhardt in the glorious "Midsummer Night's Dream") and finalized his career in Hollywood with unsurpassed gems like "Love Letters" and "Portrait of Jennie" with Jennifer Jones. They are very different from his great biopics of the 30s, of which this Dreyfus film is the towering masterpiece. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029146/?ref_=nv_sr_1 A Damsel in Distress (1937) (8/10) Fred Astaire in the world of P.G.Wodehouse and the music of George Gershwin 16 February 2019

49


Here for once Fred is without Ginger after a row of triumphant successes, and instead there is a very young and sweet Joan Fontaine, but she actually also dances with Fred in one very idyllic and romantic scene, which he would repeat 20 years later with Audrey Hepburn but in colours. The character of the film is also different from the previous Ginger ones, it is more lyrical and unreal, while on the other hand it is hysterically hilarious as a comedy, as it was written by P.G.Wodehouse – all his crazy ingredients are present, and there are some marvellous comic numbers, the greatest being perhaps Kegs’ (Reginald Gardiner) uncontrollable passion for the opera. The characters are typically silly and ridiculous for Wodehouse’s extraneous world but at the same time endearingly sympathetic in their human weakness and adorable as fools. The combination Wodehouse-George Gershwin is mildly speaking original and somewhat bizarre, combining the lyrical poetry and beauty of the music with the Wodehouse folly and eccentricism. The story is rather thin, but you will overlook its imperfections for all the hearty laughs and the beautiful romantic lyricism. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028757/ Angel (1937)

Marlene Dietrich more irresistible than ever making fools of two men 24 February 2019

This is one of Ernst Lubitsch’s less conspicuous films, while the performance of Marlene Dietrich in it is the more outstanding. Herbert Marshall is all right, he played against her before in ”Blonde Venus” four years earlier, he was a jealous husband even there, but that was Josef con Sternberg, while Ernst Lubitsch is a completely different thing, although both are Viennese, and Marlene Dietrich is German. Melvyn Douglas is the tricky thing here. He makes a perfectly abominable offensive character insisting on constantly importuning on her, and you can’t understand how she can tolerate it, but Marlene is Marlene, always superior to any critical situation, and also here she finally provides a solution, but not without the clever psychological empathy with her on the part of Herbert Marshall. Both Melvyn and Herbert appear, however, as perfect dummies at her side, while she makes the entire film worth while and watching. It’s very European, while poor Melvyn keeps blundering on without noticing anything of the subtleties going on. She enters as a mystery of an intrigue, but when she has solved the knot she is already gone. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028575/ La grande illusion (1937) (10/10) The first great and unsurpassed film of prisoners of war, focussing on gentlemanly soldiery 5 April 2019

50


For me, this is Jean Renoir's ultimate masterpiece, although he made many. Critics generally prefer "La règle du jeu" a few years later, which maybe reveals even greater virtuoso direction, but "La grande illusion" is deeper and more human and made with considerable compassion. What is the great illusion really? It's difficult to pinpoint this, but it has to do with the silent gentlemen's agreement between officers in war. The drama lies in the relationship between Erich von Stroheim, in the finest acting performance of his life, and Pierre Fresnay, today almost only remembered for this film, as the French officer, He and Jean Gabin with many others end up in a German prison camp during the first year of the first world war and spends the following years trying indefatigably to escape. This is the first great film of prisoners of war and perhaps the greatest. The first half of the film just shows off their ways of making their life in a prison camp as endurable as possible, there is a hilarious scene when they provide some entertainment dressed up as women, but the second half becomes more serious, as the most incorrigible prisoners, like Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay, are transferred to a prison fortress in the mountains. They have met Erich von Stroheim before, but here he is now two years later a handicapped desillusioned commandant, who grieves for his loss of capacity to fight in the war. He and Fresnay find each other, they have had the same mistress in Paris, and there is a deep mutual respect between them for each other, which makes Fresnay reluctant to follow his fellows on a daring escape, since he knows Stroheim is relying on his word as a gentleman. But the greatest golden character of the film lies in its extreme realism of almost a documentary character. The prisoners and officers speak French, German, English and Russian, and the life inside the prison camp is caught with an authenticity which is baffling in its natural spontaneity, which is all due to Renoir's wonderful direction. The film with its great story couldn't have been made more convincing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028950/ Nothing Sacred (1937) (10/10) Dying and making the best of it by making fun of it 30 September 2019

This is screwball comedy at its very best with one of the sharpest screen writers of Hollywood behind the scenes, Ben Hecht, crowding the film with titbits of good humour and astute intelligence, and the story is simply ingenious. It's goodhumoured irony all the way, recklessly making fun of journalism and ruthlessly dissecting the trade, as the main theme of the film is fake. Everything is faked in this film, everyone lives on the staging of frauds, it's all delusion and deceit, nothing is real, and to be part of it you have to play a fraudulent role yourself. Fredric March as the failed journalist who always gets the wrong story is always wonderful as an alcoholic, but there are many alcoholics here, one more hilarious than the other. But the main comedienne is of course Carole Lombard, here at her very best, and she would last like that for another eight years before her tragic accident and demise. The caricature of New York press life here is almost universal in its hilarious good humour - there is no meanness, only lovable parody. The best sequence is perhaps the wrestling match, where Fredric March and Carole Lombard gets bombarded by

51


bodies flying around in a hysterically funny rendering of this absurd sport. It's all in colour as well, which adds plenty of cream and sugar to the banquet of enjoyment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029322/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Le roman de Werther (1938) (10/10) A high-strung over-sentimental classic novel admirably transformed into cinematic realism with aesthetic expertise 29 January 2016

Already here in 1938 Max Ophuls proves himself the master of romantic aestheticism in a deeply moving and fascinating rendering of one of the most classic of all novels and the most deplorable of love stories, but the fact that it couldn't have ended worse is treated with expert sense of good taste. Although everybody knows the story and how it must end in suicide, Ophuls still makes it come as a surprise, and it is marvelously illustrated without showing it. Also the actors make a splendid job of the performances and couldn't have been better, although none of them is known or remembered today. You can well imagine Danielle Darrieux and Gerard Philippe in the same roles not doing any better (or worse). Also the music is excellently suited and not allowed to dominate too much – the use of the church bells and their melody quite triggers the story. Max Ophuls has simply succeeded in translating a novel of letters into a qualified drama without making it theatrical – it is perfectly organic all the way and runs with smooth efficiency, constantly accelerating the tension and the drama from ideal idylls in the beginning to gradually growing into dead serious business. It was a delight to see Goethe so successfully adapted for the screen – I would believe him to have been the most difficult of authors to undergo that treatment with any success. Especially fascinating is the cinematic technique and innovative tricks that Ophuls uses to add life and interest to his film. It is throughout very atmospherical, the moods of the novel are faithfully transported to the screen, and above all the film is marked by Ophuils' famous obsession with details, which no one could use to enhance the quality of a film better than he. The greatest joy of seeing this film was actually to be able to recognize all the familiar tricks and styles of this one of the greatest of all cinema masters as early as 1938. It has been pointed out, that it's a French film made on a German novel in the year before the apocalypse of Germany and the second world war. He had made many films in Germany previously but henceforward moved to France – and the war and its circumstances caused him a time out for seven years – to then return i full bloom with all his major masterworks. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030958/?ref_=nv_sr_1 We Are Not Alone (1938) (10/10)

52


A doctor takes care of a patient proving a hard test for the conscience of humanity 2 March 2018

This was James Hilton's most upsetting novel, a parallel to Hans Fallada's "Was nun, kleiner Mann?" about the plight of small humble people at the mercy of a world of inhumanity. Paul Muni makes one of his finest performances ever as a good and decent but not very clever small town doctor, who is governed by a bit too orderly wife (Flora Robson), who doesn't like music, while Paul Muni actually plays the violin and does it well. As one of his patients he takes care of a young dancer who has broken a delicate bone, but she is foreign (Austrian) and has no one to turn to when she falls out of luck, deserted by her dancing company and attempting suicide in her abandoned despair. She proves to have a very good hand with children, and the doctor and his wife need a nanny for their young son (about 5 or 6), so even Flora welcomes her. But she becomes such good friends with both the son and the musical doctor, that Flora feels bypassed and takes action, ordering her to leave. There the trouble begins. It coincides with the outbreak of the first world war, and as an Austrian the delicate Jane Bryan finds herself a declared enemy in a very hostile country, where the small town folk don't hesitate to lynch local Germans. And so it goes from bad to worse. Edmund Goulding has much of the credit for this extremely human and touching film, which could make anyone's heart melt. A sure thing is you will never forget it. It completely dwarfs "Good-Bye Mr Chips" of the same author and almost the same year for its deeper human poignancy. "We Are Not Alone" refers to the fact which the doctor quietly observes, that those who suffer as martyrs for meaningless hatred in local places indeed are not alone, since hundreds of thousands of innocents are martyred at the same time in the trenches of the war. There are many delicate details in this film making it worth seeing again now and then, since situations like this always will remain actual and important reminders. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032115/?ref_=nv_sr_3 Algiers (1938) (8/10) PepĂŠ le Moko in sentimentalised American style 29 October 2018

When I heard about this film I was surprised that I did not know about it, since I thought I had seen all Charles Boyer's films, and I thought my friend confused it with Julien Duvivier's film "PepĂŠ le Moko", but it was worse than that. This was a remake the year after the Duvivier film, they did that sometimes in the 30s, remakes only a year after the original, but it was worse than that: this was an exact copy, true to the original in almost every scene. The only major difference was the appearance of Hedy Lamarr as Gaby, some contrast to Jean Gabin's less impressing beauty.

53


Another difference is that Charles Boyer actually sings a song, which Jean Gabin never did. To cap the obsession with this romantic Algiers story, there was another remake 10 years later with Marta Toren taking over the whole show and reducing PepĂŠ le Moko to an unconvincing and almost silly crooner. Of course, the story is excellent, also Charles Boyer is excellent as usual, and this was Hedy Lamarr's first American film, and her beauty is enough to make anything excellent where she shows up. They even used the same film music makers and the same music as in the French film; and although the film is good, the original is always the best. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029855/?ref_=ur_urv The Citadel (1938) (9/10) The importance of idealism and how easily it gets lost 21 July 2019

The citadel here is the established fortress of science in the medical profession, against which Robert Donat has to fight hard to get through his insights and convictions and realizations about the truth, and he has terrible trials to contend with. Perhaps the worst of them is corruption within his own profession. His forced resignation from a Welsh coal district brings him to London, where he suddenly finds himself in high society and enjoys it, not realizing that he is losing his idealism for corruption. It's a great story, A.J.Cronin's medical novels are always rewarding, and this is one of his best. Robert Donat is as reliable and likeable as ever, Rosalind Russell matches him well, being loyal under all circumstances but seeing through his weaknesses, but perhaps the most interesting part is played by Ralph Richardson as the drinking colleague, who in spite of his weakness always sees the truth and sticks to it even under total adversity and even if it demands forbidden actions. His presence and character recalls the equally super-realistic medical film of "So Long Remembered" temn years later on James Hilton's novel. This is a very edifying film, it's all about idealism and its indispensable importance under all circumstances, and although the film lacks a conclusion and leaves the audience hanging in the air, it is indeed satisfactory enough as a major argument. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029995/ Shadows over Shanghai (1938) (8/10) A damsel in distress in China caught up in international spying intrigues 54


6 August 2019

This is a preview of the second world war, made the year before it started. The characters even point it out, that this is what you have to expect of the coming war, and it sure is coming. The war scenes, although having nothing to do with the intrigue, are devastating in their impact. James Dunn and Ralph Morgan make a perfect complimentary pair: Dunn as hilarious as any comic, and Morgan unfathomable in his sinister objectivity: you can't guess what he really is up to and what he knows and on which side he is on. To this comes Linda Grey as the perfect innocent damsel in distress who has to be helped at any cost, which both the protagonists are more than eager to do, and at least she gets off well, leaving her dying brother behind in a troublesome fate that never gets explained. The villain is typical of the 30s: he is all evil and can't be anything else. James Dunn's humour and good spirits saves the film, which is good entertainment indeed, and the Americans should have known something of what to expect of the Japanese three years before Pearl Harbour, which they of course didn't. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030736/ Stanley and Livingstone (1939) (9/10) Stanley finds Livingstone, with glory and with consequences 21 March 2017

The interesting part of this film is the friendship between Stanley and Livingstone as transmitted by Spencer Tracy and Cedric Hardwicke. It's the ideal kind of role for Spencer Tracy, and he would continue developing characters in that direction still for many years to come up to the judge in "Judgement at Nuremberg" 1961. Cedríc Hardwicke makes the most credible possible Dr. Livingstone as both a missionary and a doctor, a character and mission later carried on by Albert Schweitzer. The great encounter is framed by a very epic adventure of Africa exploration, and this could be Henry King's best film – he certainly wouldn't always be that good. Almost the whole film is of a journey, starting carefully in Zanzibar presenting already from the beginning the major complications of infection – one presumes it is malaria – and how it must affect any European for life, like as if Africa in itself was an unavoidable mortal illness for any daring visitor. Spencer Tracy really knocks it off when he has to defend his exploits to the Royal Geographical Society of London headed by Charles Coburn as Stanley's leading newspaper competitor, a London journal completely dominating the field and feeling the threat of New York Herald. It's a great adventure film above all but very much enhanced and lifted to higher levels by the acting of Spencer Tracy and Cedric Hardwicke. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031973/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Only Angels Have Wings (1939) (10/10) 55


An aviation expert testing his wings at extreme length and making it. 26 December 2016

This is above all an aviation film made by an aviation enthusiast and expert and seen through his eyes. Everything is good about it, as it is the ideal product of aviation craftsmanship turned into a movie. It's a great drama at high levels, but what makes it thoroughly enjoyable as well is the sparkling dialogue – many of Howard Hawks' legendary quotes are from here. All the actors are also superb, Cary Grant as the coolest of bosses with extreme responsibility with the obligation to risk his employees' lives, Sig Ruman as the Dutch bartender compensating his coolness with the warmest of hearts, Jean Arthur accidentally falling in with the drama and adjusting to it with difficulty but finally getting it, Rita Hayworth not getting drunk enough so Cary Grant has to water her, and Richard Barthelmess as the critical pilot branded with an unforgivable failure in his past; while the one who steals the show and who etches into your memory is Thomas Mitchell as the grounded pilot with nonetheless more experience and human knowledge than any of the others, representing the tragedy with human depth. It's perhaps the greatest of aviation films, at least up to the 1940s, and it's difficult to find any later one on the same level – one that almost touches it is David Lean's "Breaking the Sound Barrier" 13 years later. This is one of those films you'll remember forever and always return to in a kind of self-torturous delight of life excitement at the extreme. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031762/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Dark Victory (1939) (10/10) Bette Davis going blind with flying colors This was one of Bette Davis' most famous performances, although she made many and all were outstanding. Still, this one stands out from the others as exceptionally personal in a way that she never again quite found an opportunity to bring out. Helping her in this were all the ingredients, a fantastic script, a great score by Max Steiner, her cavaliers George Brent, Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan (always drunk and silly, he is the only one in the film to get socked,) and Geraldine Fitzgerald as the most important supporting actress with her display of a high level of sensitivity. This is a film that never will age, anyone can learn much of it in whatever age, for its vital argument about death and life. while at the same time it's a major lesson in empathy. This is brought out in them all, George Brent as her doctor of great psychological insight, Humphrey Bogart as the faithful stable groom, (the most intense love scene is actually in the stables between him and Bette,) and perhaps most of all in Geraldine Fitzgerald as her closest friend. But Bette Davis is the marvel above all. Her acting is almost excruciatingly truthful in her more than convincing way of taking on her destiny. It's interesting to compare this film with the almost contemporary "The Light that Failed" with Ronald Colman as an artist going blind, that is more tragic, while Bette Davis actually makes a glorious victory of her fate.

56


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031210/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Eternally yours (1939) (8/10) It takes some suicidal efforts to wreck a happy marriage and to save a shipwrecked one. 29 July 2017

Interesting set-up exposing a very fundamental human problem concerning highly developed individuals: Loretta marries a genius who is too good for his own good, as it brings him into suicidal situations, which also has to involve those closely connected with him, including his wife Loretta, who finally just can't bear it any more and leaves him, as she says, 'to give him his freedom', but why she marries the blockhead Broderick Crawford of all people instead is difficult to understand. The main intrigue is how David and Loretta will find each other again, which of course is inevitable, anything else is just impossible, the only question is how. It's a charming comedy, David Niven is at his best, and it's a joy to see him so young – that was before he did Edgar in "Wuthering Heights", a character which almost killed him. And seeing this picture you can well understand how Ian Fleming wanted him for James Bond. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031282/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Rains Came (1939) (10/10) Not Kipling's India but more realistic and even more romantic. 7 January 2018

This is one of the best films of India I have seen, for its realism, its fantastic story, its characters and their fates and the overwhelming disaster sequences. All major problems that could occur in India of some overwhelming nature happen in this film, the earthquake, the floods, the epidemics, but the characters that meet their destiny in these fatalities are all well fit and up to it, George Brent leading in one of his best roles as a local veteran with experience and some reputation as a rogue, Myrna Loy in an unusually sensitive and complicated role for her comedy career, and Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor. It's actually his film. He doesn't come across to the centre of the stage until towards the end, but then he proves himself also with an advanced and unusual sensitivity under the strain of great national crisis. Maria Ouspenskaya is also glorious as the begum and totally convincing as such, while at the same time she plays poker and smokes cigarettes with a mouthpiece - her character is actually the most picturesque, while she also has the right backbone to lead her country out of the crisis. It's a great film on a great story, and everyone involved has a maximum of credit for it.

57


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031835/?ref_=nv_sr_1

They Made Me a Criminal (1939) (10/10) John Garfield escaping trouble to end up in more trouble 12 June 2018

This is an early noir with Busby Berkeley coming on with many surprises on the way of the typically noir theme of an innocent, having to escape from justice and the law since all the circumstantial evidence is against him and no one believes him. John Garfield was always uncouth and rowdy but managed to make the more splendid characters for their sore trials, forcing them to extreme honesty, not seldom to self-sacrifice to prove themselves right. John Garfield was expert on such characters, especially in Hemingway stories. This is different, though. Here he is hounded by a policeman notorious for his uncompromising pertinacity, who is no one less than Claude Rains, and we know how merciless he can be. John Garfield, however, finds another life in Arizona with the Dead End Kids and a girl and creates an idyllic existence away from the world, - while Claude Rains gets the scent and comes on track. John Garfield's character is not very intelligent, he follows his impulses rather than any careful thought, and his character will keep you constantly worried, for he can't end up in anything but trouble. and his honesty must keep you sticking to him with all your sympathy. How he wins the boys on his side and finally the girl just to one day meet his fate as Claude Rains turns up at the wrong moment is a fascinating thriller all the way with many psychological moments of truth. The grandma finalizes the brilliance, It's a very enjoyable and impressing film with Max Steiner's music adding to it just discreetly enough, but Busby Berkeley's direction takes the prize. The party in the beginning of the film is a triumph for him. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032022/?ref_=ur_urv When Tomorrow Comes (1939) (9/10) A very happily romantic adventure ending up in a hopelessly tragic knot... 10 May 2019

This is a heart-rending story covered up in a romantic comedy of many wonderful and surprising turnings, and it is impossible to guess at the sad conclusion of this very entertaining and stimulating journey. It's a typical Irene Dunne film, it's like a twin shadow of "Love Affair" of the same year, but although this film is more hearty and gleeful in its romantic ways, it is more tragic than "Love Affair", which puts on a

58


more sinister fateful aspect but nevertheless ends better. Here you are faced with a truly hopeless situation with no end to its abysmal tragedy, which no one can do anything about, and still Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne settle to make the best of it and hope for tomorrow anyway, and maybe, after all, it will come... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032124/ French Without Tears (1940) (9/10) "There are momernts when I could cheerfully strangle you." 22 December 2018

Why didn't Terence Rattigan write more comedies? He was much better at that than at serious drama, which didn't always strike home, but a comedy like this one is an ace in the genre, with brilliant dialogue, hilarious characters, sophisticated irony and irresistible charm. Ray Milland here is very close to Cary Grant and could surely have made more parts like this and even compete with his countryman, and Roland Culver in probably his best part ever is an outrageously likeable caricature of a very square naval officer. All the others are perfect as well, having some difficulty as very English dandies to get along in France with a very strict French professor, the best caricature of them all, like a double of Emil Jannings in "The Blue Angel" but funnier and more French. Add to this the eloquent and intelligent touch of Anthony Asquith's direction, and you''ll find there was something to those blasphemous suggestions that Asquith was a more accomplished director than Hitchcock. They certainly complement each other, and Asquith was more elegant and intelligent, while Hitchcock was more effective. Anyway, this comedy is a must and a classic, setting something of a paragon example for the great era of English comedies usually starring Alec Guinness, and they were many and all exceptionally good. I saw this one more than 50 years ago, but I had no memory it was that immensely good. What a positively delightful surprise of an old acquaintance! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031341/?ref_=tt_urv The Mortal Storm (1940) (9/10) How the Nazi revolution in Germany 1933 affected ordinary people's lives 17 July 2015

This is a surprisingly modern and almost shockingly valid film still today after 75 years, since all the arguments are as important today as in 1940 and perhaps even more so than ever. It's about the transience from a democracy to an autocracy, how it changes the very core of society and plunges people into an entirely different mentality turning many of them into aliens and forcing them into exile, if they want to escape the brainwash. It's an upsetting story extremely efficiently told with marvellous photography, especially in the final scenes way up in the Alps, and it's a 59


joy to see James Stewart so young and fresh and completely himself in total honesty. Margaret Sullavan has done better in other films, especially "Three Comrades" two years earlier, another German story on a novel by Remarque, but no one is falling short of perfect. Frank Borzage's direction celebrates perhaps its greatest triumphs in this vitally important film so much ahead of its time, since it clearly sees through all what Germany actually was about long before America entered the war. This is actually a timelessly important film unmasking the very essence of autocracy as a very efficient warning against it for all times – it could be about any autocracy. Perhaps it's a little dramatized and exaggerated, it all happens in 1933 while it's still winter, while it really depicts the whole development in Germany up till 1939, but that's a minor detail, and the film would have been less efficient without the exaggerations – the message is the important thing, and it remains a vitally important one for all ages. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032811/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Beyond Tomorrow (1940) (9/10) Some strange turnings of fate concerning life and death, love and fortune. 14 July 2017

This is much more than just sentimentality. Maria Ouspenskaya has the key role as the one who sees through the dimensions and feels what's going on outside reality. It's a great story about three old men working together since many years, who get the idea of throwing out their wallets in the street with some money in them for Christmas, just for kicks. Two young people, a boy and a girl, happen to be honest enough to want to restore the wallets to their givers. They are invited for a Christmas dinner, and there it all starts. There are many various turns of the tale, the three gentlemen even have some interesting experiences after death, and the young couple don't go too easy along either. It's a perfect Christmas story warming your heart and morals with a lot of feeling good about it afterwards, but the real meaning is rather serious and almost sinister. Maria Ouspenskaya would not have the wisdom and insight which is her endowment without some gruesome experience in the past of losing everything, and the motto is important: "I believe that the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life, respecting its conduct in this." - Benjamin Franklin. It's pure karma and worth remembering. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032247/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Long Voyage Home (1940) (9/10)

60


The precarious voyage home of an English cargo ship from South America in wartime carrying a load of ammunition. 1 February 2015

You can only say positive things about this film. It is so lovely in its typically John Fordian human charm, augmented by the very atmospheric photography, which sometimes touches on expressionistic magic, while all the characters are successes, from the naive Swede (John Wayne), his sad buddy John Qualen (Axel), Thomas Mitchell in one of his best performances ever (and he was always good), Wilfrid Lawson as the harsh but able captain, Ian Hunter as the tragedy of Smitty, Barry Fitzgerald doing his expert fool's part as the steward, and so on. The charm is consistent all the way and never ceases to increase your interest, with a grandiose finale when the sailors come home and start partying around. The tragedy is always there, you know everything must go wrong, and it does and even more so than you had expected, but the positive mood still shines through and leave you happy with tears. This must be John Ford's most lyrical film, it is almost soft in its outbursts of sentimentality now and then, so alien to the rough lives of sailors and in wartime at that, but it is impossible to imagine this story and these characters in any harder realism. Even the music adds to the melancholy temperament of the film, including some borrowings from Swedish folk songs ('Näckens polska') now and then accompanying the upsets or the meltdown of the Swedes, which also adds to the lyricism. We must include Eugene O'Neill in this eulogy, on whose stories this almost Conradian fable of a film of dark sea destinies was made. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032728/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The House of the Seven Gables (1940) (9/10) Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel completely remade without ghosts. 16 November 2017

Few great novels have been altered so completely for the screen as this one, but the result is, to say the least, interesting, and actually not worse than the book; lighter, of course, but adding very much to it of good quality, especially by the outstanding acting throughout, among which Vincent Price and Margaret Lindsay make very memorable performances. There are some scenes which go directly into your heart that the book is lacking, and no one can remain unmoved by the very deep human emotions around Clifford Pyncheon's homecoming after 20 years in prison. George Sanders is the usual outrageously elegant crook with unshakable superiority of wealth and confidence - in the book he dies in the library without pains in his sleep but surrounded by the ghosts of all his ancestors deeply loaded with vice. There are no ghosts in this film, there is no need for them, as the alternative story to the book's is quite enough of human interest. Another factor raising the film to a considerable level is the music. There is no music even mentioned in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, but here it is made to play an important part, underscored by Frank Skinner's wonderful score, and Vincent Price even sings and sings well.

61


In brief, it's not a very extraordinary film, but it certainly makes the best of all resources at hand of the figures, the actors, the music and the gloomy story, while perhaps the greatest scene of all in the film is that between the women, two very different women, one marked by disaster and outrage and the other as fresh as a new spring. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032610/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Johnny Apollo (1940) (9/10) What is right and wrong in a society where it is right to do wrong? 11 January 2018

The most interesting part of this film is the complicated relationship between the father and the son and how it develops, the father being a widower of an only son without a mother, spoiled as the father is a millionaire and a business man without scruples, which leads him into trouble as he gets dishonoured and jailed for embezzlement, while the son, heretoforth completely honest, is ruined with his father, sees the injustice of his father's treatment and finds his only means to get him exonerated by turning to elements evading the law. Enter Dorothy Lamour who gets him involved, as she is already involved with those alternative elements. It's a great noir, the story is fascinating, the characters never cease to develop, the action is constantly moving forward, and no one can guess what will become of all this confusion of right and wrong, justice and injustice, seeing what is wrong and turning a blind eye to it as it seems right to do wrong, and so on. Edward Arnold is the great character who somewhat overshadows Tyrone Power, but the character that most will stick in your mind is the old pettifogger, Charley Grapewin as Judge Brennan, who quotes Shakespeare and cuts the only truly tragic character. The final scene somewhat spoils the drama, it would have been better without it, but up to that point it's one of the major and most intriguing noirs - and one of the first. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032651/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Angels Over Broadway (1940) (10/10) A gamester looking for prey ends up with a suicide candidate, a drunk and Rita Hayworth. 17 April 2018

This film turned up as a surprise, like so many of Ben Hecht's films do - he had his hand in almost every quality film of the 40s-50s, and this was not only written by him but also directed and produced, so it's one of those very rare films that is more or less completely Ben Hecht's own.

62


The story is typical of his going to extremes about everything - there is a suicide candidate, a drunk, a reckless adventurer, a gang of gangsters setting up poker games to kill the victim, a loose young lady, a loser playwright, and a lot of intrigue. It rains almost throughut the film to make matters worse, so most of the action is indoors, in a night club (of course), in a shabby hotel with a poker room dense with smoke, and the obligatory window exit of someone getting out at any cost, like in almost every one of his films. Although the character of the film is dark like an early noir, it's actually a charming comedy. The protagonists get together in a cozy kind of way, there is no hostility or quarrel but rather the opposite, they keep warming up to each other through the entire film, until the weather clears and the drama is over, actually to the satisfaction of everyone. Douglas Fairbanks gets a plastered nose, but that is about all the bloodshed. Nothing serious, although it's dead serious all the way, but things get sorted out more or less by themselves. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032209/ The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940) (9/10) Strange goings-on at an old castle of nobility with a number of lunatic murders. 27 September 2018

Intriguing romanticism in an old noble castle with an ancient history and a brilliant pianist and composer as the last baronet in the line of a dying family, whom his mother (Helen Haye) keeps insisting on getting married to keep the family going, which doesn't quite turn out as she had wished. Some weird butlers with too much knowledge of what is going on and an old doctor (Felix Aylmer) with a doubtful past as a practitioner in India plus a few murders makes up a dire soup of great thriller suspense. The young baronet is Marius Goring, who must have loved playing this debatable genius, while Penelope Dudley-Ward provides the necessary beauty as the frightened lady who has reason to be frightened indeed. It's a brilliant thriller by Edgar Wallace, and if you like beautiful music, romantic settings, exotic intrigue and horrific murders, you should not miss this film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032313/ Victory! (1940) Alone on a desert island surrounded by nasty crooks 26 November 2018

Joseph Conrad is one of those reliable authors of whose books it's impossible to make bad films. This one is certainly among his best, both concerning the novel and the film. Frederic March is unusually good, and Betty Field is just the right type for

63


her sly manoeuvres, while Cedric Hardwicke as the leading crook gives the main zest to the movie, describing an interesting transition from unbearable superiority to helplessness and deadly fear Curiously enough, his life's greatest fear is the woman, and the highlight of the film is to study his face as he is made aware of a woman being present. Unfortunately it is difficult to come across decent copies of this film, but hopefully it will one day be adequately restored, which it deserves - it is definitely one of Crowell's very best films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033220/ Spies of the Air (1940) (9/10) Suspense in the air and hazardous intrigues on the ground 10 December 2018

What makes this film remarkable is the extremely skilful editing, by which it was put together, and the editor was no one less than David Lean. It starts off rather moderately without much excitement, Roger Livesey being busy about directing his test pilot in waging his life in daredevil experiments in the air, but things begin looking serious when the test pilot starts courting Roger's wife. From that moment the suspense steadily increases to reach a tremendous climax in the air. There are quite a few murders or casualties on the way of an intrigue that constantly gets more worryingly complicated. The music is also quite good, but it's the editing that makes the film an ace of efficiency. It was made before the war but shown when the war had started, which made it look even more serious. It's a small but enduring classic. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033090/?ref_=tt_urv A Window in London (1940) (10/10) Terrrible ups and downs in marriages and night life between life and death in London 4 January 2018

This is an amazing thriller mainly consisting of surprises all the way. It starts like a comedy , and the comedy mood seems to be its dominating element, but then enter the abyss of jealousy. Sally Field is the wife of a magician whose life is a tempestuous roller-coaster of failures and redemptions, and into this messy life of an incalculable jealous artist of some diabolical talent (Paul Lukas, fresh from "The Lady Vanishes") comes Michael Redgrave clumsily interfering in what he believes is a murder attempt of Lukas on his wife. Well, Michael is also married, but his wife gets sacked

64


from her job, while Michael gets mixed up with the jealous husband, and it all seems to go really bad for everybody. But you are still in for many surprises. It's a wonderfully witty film, almost heralding the best moments of Powell & Pressburger and with some definite elements of Hitchcock, the scene at the night club is a highlight, and the theatre scenes with some extras are also hilarious with an expected tragic climax, trigging quite a few catastrophes - but never mind, this is first class entertainment all the way, and afterwards you will feel kind of upside down. The script is by Ian Dalrymple, and I think that's where most of the credit should go. An additional asset, though, is a very accomplished music score by Bretton Byrd. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031548/ Arise, My Love (1940) (10/10) Ray Milland at the mercy of a journalist, and both at the mercy of war 26 July 2019

Both Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland are superb in this brilliant war comedy drama in the shadow of the Spanish civil war and the Second World War. It was Claudette Colbert’s own favourite among her films, and you’ll understand some of its qualities better when you study the list of the script writers, one of whom was the young Billy Wilder. The dialog is brilliant all the way, there is any amount of eloquent scenes, and the romance gradually grows quite naturally with some skirmishes along the way. Walter Abel also gives one of his best performances as Claudette Colbert’s employer, as he also gets his nose too far out into the business. Claudette Colbert is a journalist who goes to Spain to get out an American prisoner, who awaits his execution. That is Ray Milland, and the very first scene is perhaps the very best one, as Ray Milland sits in his cell waiting for his execution playing cards with a priest, while the firing squad is busy just outside, leaving one body just outside Ray Milland’s window in a shadow that won’t go away. Add to this the romantic music of Victor Young, which adorns many of the long romance scenes, while gradually the comedy transcends into a major war drama, with some curious coincidences on the way: on the train to Berlin, both Ray and Claudette being together on it, the emergency break is pulled just as the war breaks out, and when Ray and Claudette decide to leave all career thinking behind and go back to America to embark on a normal life, their ship gets torpedoed, and the war starts for real. It’s a delightful and innovative comedy all the way, eloquently mixed with some very serious business, and the film is so positive and edifying, that it would be worth returning to it every once in a while – it’s the perfect emergency readiness film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032220/ The Son of Monte Christo (1940) (9/10)

65


General Gurko Lenin intriguing and aspiring for total power with Russian help but fooled by Monte Christo's money 12 August 2019

This is old Hollywood at its best in a splendid swashbuckler yarn of a corrupt regime somewhere in the Balkans beyond Hungary (evidently Romania, since the religion is orthodox,) and Louis Hayward is as elegant as any Douglas Fairbanks Jr or Errol Flynn, and Joan Bennett, still young and fresh here, plays the part of Olivia de Havilland. The ace of the show however is George Sanders as the crook, impeccably gentlemanly in all his absurdity, and quite convincing as a figure representing corrupt state politics. There are many gorgeous scenes, but the most interesting part of the action is the freedom movement, set ablaze by The Torch, a kind of Balkan Zorro, who encounters all the problems and difficulties in the rowdy Balkans as Zorro in Spanish California. The music is perfectly matched to the action all the way, and the totally artificlal plot causes no disturbance or alarm - the Balkans are like that, and Gurko makes the perfect figurehead. He excelled in crooks like this and always made them perfectly convincing, the more rotten to the core, the better. The story is actually quite original, having nothing to do with Dumas or Monte Christo but fabricated independently by Hollywood's inspired script writers, and the result will remain a joy forever as first class entertainment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033076/ Pastor Hall (1939-40) (10/10) The ordeals of a German priest in opposition to the Nazi rogue state 13 November 2019

This is Wilfrid Lawson's life performance, and no one could have made it more convincing and heart-warming. The Lutheran pastor Niemuller and his ordeal was a true story, and the most impressing thing about this film is that it exposĂŠs all the horrors of the German concentration camps already at the initiation of the war. The films of the Boulting brothers are always more than interesting in their keen concentration on vital problems of reality, and this film was one of their earliest, already marking their special knack for controversial realism. Nova Pilbeam is perfect as the daughter, and so is Marius Goring as the abominable leading Nazi. Other important characters are Bernard Miles as the pastor's faithful disciple joining the SS and taking the consequences - another important tragedy of the tale. The film was made as an exclamation mark for a warning of what was going on, and as such it is valid for all times - there are always new dictatorships, and they are all of the same sort, beginning constructively and then turning gradually to oppression. cruelty and madness. A timeless masterpiece, valid for all times. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032894/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1

66


The Man I Married (1940) (10/10) Joan Bennett at the mercy of the reality of Nazi Germany - by her own husband 17 December 2019

This is one of those early prophetic films seeing through Nazism completely long before their actual madness was commonly known or even suspected. Joan Bennett is married to a German in New York who wants to return to Germany to see about his father's business (Otto Kruger in one of his best roles), where he turns into a definite Nazi, to the great shock of Joan Bennett. It's a very unpleasant film, you feel the creeping horrors of Nazism invading your being and life as you like Joan Bennett follow the revelations of the tale, but dramatically it's an ingenious film, carefully building up an almost unendurable suspense, to reach a climax in the wonderful final scene at home. It is very intelligently written, and you follow the arguments and developments with constantly increasing anxiety and thrill, and what's worse - films like this are pertinent still today, since the same sneaking danger of dictatorships is something that history always has seen the return of. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032746/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 No, No, Nanette (1940) (9/10) The troubles of a millionaire and his niece with his involuntary girl involvements, always saved by the niece. 27 January 2020

This is a sprightly glittering musical comedy with above all splendid music and great comedians at their best, especially Roland Young as the incorrigible millionaire constantly getting mixed up with unbearable divas and risking a constant divorce. Anna Neagle is at her most charming, Victor Mature is still young and handsome here, but his part is small, but there are many hilarious scenes. One misses the great days of comedy of the old Hollywood of the 30s, continuing shining with splendour all the way up to Pearl Harbour, which changed everything for the worse. Richard Carlson plays the most sympathetic part as the artist painting her portrait, leading up to 'Tea for Two'. Helen Broderick plays the wife of Roland Young, another ace of a comedienne. Today it's a bit oldish and outdated, but its charm is definitely irresistible and will endure through many more decades. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032847/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Lydia (1941) (10/10)

67


A great and neglected love story that will live on for ever, in this great forgotten American film from the early 40s. 2 August 2015

It's always a pleasure to discover a long neglected film, usually found in old bad copies, with the gratifying opportunity to bring attention to a forgotten masterpiece. "Lydia" is such a film, written and directed by Julien Duvivier with some help by Ben Hecht, featuring Merle Oberon at her best with her wooers Joseph Cotten, Alan Marshal and a few others, accompanied by spellbinding music of Miklos Rosza's, and in addition to all this with the last performance of Edna May Oliver with an exit crowning her accomplishments. The question is what is best with this film, which has so many different aspects and sides to it. Is it the great story of an adorable beauty who decides to remain a virgin all her life dedicated solely to helping blind children? Is it the important part of the music, in long eloquent sequences presented by Hans Jaray as the blind pianist, another of her wooers? Is it her fascinating personality so virtuously exposed throughout by mainly the voice of Merle Oberon in her old age? Is it the deeply romantic love affair with its extraordinary passion? Is it the great flow of the film in high tempo and dazzling dialogue all the way with beautiful photography at that? It's all this and much more. This is a great love story of a totally different kind to what we are used to, something totally out of the ordinary, and as such it's a story and film for all times and ages and all generations. This is a film to study and to be learned from, especially for those interested in the enigmatic nature of any woman. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033858/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Lady Eve (1941) Blowing the whistle on la belle dame sans-merci (10/10) 12 August 2017

This isn't easy for Henry Fonda, being rather backward with a sole life interest in snakes and other reptiles and being the only son of a multi-millionaire of beer, who wants to get him married at any price with whomever, and so he meets with the worst possible death trap for a bachelor, Barbara Stanwyck at her smartest and loveliest, partnering her father in cheating at cards. Charles Coburn is that father and makes the best of it as another father who wants his daughter married at any price with whomever as long as he is rich. This film was entirely made for fun, and there are many irregularities, but it's the fun that counts. Mind all the whistles. They play an important part symbolically and make the finale. Eric Blore is another bloke cheating the heads off of all society and entering just at the right critical moment to save the situation by doubling the trouble, together with Eugene Palette in on of his many exhilarating performances, making the company of merry rogues complete. Everyone dominating the stage here is a cheat with accomplished faked identities and playing for kicks, except poor Henry Fonda, who is totally honest and innocent and is well taken care of and fares the better off for not understanding a thing. His silliness is adorable throughout the film, and his play-acting as this very odd character is a marvel, matching Barbara's 68


resplendent superiority perfectly. No wonder she has to fall for him, while he just follows her in the fall... The music also plays an important part, and even Wagner's Pilgrim Chorus adds solemnly to the comedy at another of the film's multitude of moments of enjoying hypocrisy. One of the most hilarious comedies of all time, and you can see it many times and still enjoy its freshness. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033804/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Cottage to Let (1941) (10/10) Everyone spying on everyone in a kind of funnyhouse of local Scottish picturesque espionage intrigue 12 January 2018

Charming idylls at the heart of legendary romantic Scotland gradually evolves into a stage of complicated and advanced espionage business. Leslie Banks is a nutty professor, very distracted, who gradually emerges as a leading inventor of the nation, whom everyone is nosily interested in, especially Alastair Sim in one of his early roles, who even here already proves himself amazingly superior as an actor and threatens to dominate the film. However, there is enough competition to put even him at bay when the moment comes. Most brilliant of all is perhaps George Cole as a the boy sent away from bombed London and housed with this lot of eccentrics. He is a Sherlock Holmes expert and gradually gets very busy, helping the inventor with his hobby planes, to begin with. John Mills is fished out of the water as an RAF man, but there is something fishy about him as well. This steadily more complex duck soup of intrigues that you can only guess at culminates in the great bazaar of festivities with fish ponds and other local glories, where the action suddenly gets frenzied with fisticuffs and gunshots, manhunts and all you need to have a nice local rustic espionage thriller for a real titbit of a film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033491/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Dangerous Moonlight (1941) (9/10) Music and passion at war 13 January 2018

What is wrong about this film? The story couldn't be better, and it is underscored by one of the best film scores ever made. Still, the film is far from a successful film. Whose fault is it? The director Brian Desmond Hurst made many films on the best of stories, but none of them really come alive, as if he was rather formally transferring a piece of literature to pictures without the capacity to make the actors transcend the story, as if their main task was not to act but only to sustain the story. 69


Anton Walbrook makes the best of it, and he is reliable as in every film he ever made, but possibly sensitive to the director's limitations, he stays within himself throughout the film. Sally Grey just isn't enough. She is not well chosen for this role of a cool journalist of a millionaire's only daughter, rather spoiled and childish, and she is not psychologically convincing, just not living up to the profound and passionate romance that is presented in the first scenes in the ruins of Warsaw. After this film, she would make no other until five years later, but then she would be so much better in "Carnival". The main acting asset of the film is instead Derrick de Marney as Walbrook's colleague and best friend, who actually saves the film, although he is the only truly tragic figure. And how come that this outstanding music, by many deemed as the best film music ever made, doesn't succeed in saving the film? The guilty one here is actually Anton Walbrook - he is as far from convincing as a pianist as an actor could get. It's overobvious that every single sequence with him playing the piano, and they are many, is faked. He is never seen to touch the keys, he is completely dispassionate sitting by the piano although the music couldn't be more passionate, and this is the main want of the film - the music is there, but it would have been better if we never had to see the pianist at work. It is recommended to close your eyes every time you see Anton Walbrook by the piano and listen to the real pianist instead of watching a painful fake. The story also saves the film. It is much deeper and more complicated than what it first appears like, and you need to see the film a couple of times before you understand it. The first time must be a disappointment. The second time you will understand everything you didn't understand the first time, and then you know how to deal with this - in spite of all - super-unique gem of a romantic war crisis film of patriotic passion and responsibility at stake on the altar of love. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033511/?ref_=nv_sr_1 I Wake Up Screaming (Hot Spot, 1941) (10/10) “Pretend you are going to your execution.� 21 February 2018

It's impossible to get at the mystery here. Like the three main suspects find themselves in a maze of trouble in having no idea of what is going on, so will the audience find themselves in hopeless bewilderment that just gets worse all the time for the towering confusion. At the same time, this film is hilariously witty and surprising all the way - the odd twists and turns of this outrageously baffling mystery never stop coming up with new surprises, while the greatest one awaits you in the end. There is a lot of house-breaking in this film, and none of the actors seem surprised or even to mind that people keep breaking in at midnight to keep them

70


company in their bedroom. Victor Mature is the lead as the most harassed suspect, but Laird Cregar as the inspector general gets the better of the whole show - if ever you were troubled by nasty policemen, they will all appear like angels in comparison with this awesome smiling sadist, who enjoys subjecting you to interminable psychic torture, and he is sure to get you in the end - his record is perfect, there is not a trace of a flaw in his long career, and everyone hates him, including his fellow policemen, especially his chief. This policeman could make you hate all policemen forever. It's a fascinating character performance that you will never forget. Victor Mature is hardened enough by his long association with difficult people in publicity business to be able to cope with him endurably, while he scares the shit out of both Betty Grable and Alan Mowbray. Elisha Cook is scary in the other direction, while the blonde sisters Betty Grable and Carole Landis are too pretty and easily carried away not to end up in trouble. Carole Landis is the beauty whom you only meet in flashbacks, while her sister is less convincing as a blonde bombshell - how could anyone fall in love with her? The main attraction and asset of the film is the brilliant script and story with a dialogue that will send you flying with delight over and over again. Everyone is witty, and the sparkling humour is a startling contrast to the sinister dark mystery of the murder, perfectly unsolvable, and yet the logic of the story couldn't be more impeccable and natural. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033740/?ref_=tt_urv A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941) (9/10) Tyrone Power getting mixed up with Betty Grable's legs and Spitfires ending up at Dunkirk 20 July 2018

This is surprisingly good for being such a flimsy entertainment - to start with. Betty Grable sings two songs at a nightclub, and in the video available to me those two performances were muted - those songs can't have been much to listen to anyway, since all that counts when she is on stage is her legs. That's the first thing you see of her in the film, and whenever you see her again all you want to see is her legs. Tyrone Power is equally dandy, a roguish playboy getting off to Canada when he is supposed to land in New Jersey, wandering in which direction England lies... But this happy-go-lucky business gradually gets serious, as the war starts and stranded pilots suddenly find themselves surrounded by Germans in Holland - the air fights are the real treat of the film, and there are even some casualties. The change from show business to realism is what makes the film worth seeing, and although both Tyrone Power and Betty Grable are at their best, the English actors are just as good. It's both a great entertainment, an interesting war film from the beginning of the war, actually introducing it to an American audience, and with a proper finale in the guns and smokes and fires at Dunkirk. Tyrone Power even gets properly bandaged in the end.

71


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034405/?ref_=tt_urv The Day Will Dawn (1941) (8/10) Norwegian Deborah Kerr getting mixed up with a local Quisling and an English spy 19 July 2018

We have seen this before, the freedom fighters of Norway under Nazi occupation, their hardship, their courage, their determination, their heroism and so on, and if this film at least is better than "The Moon Is Down" on the same theme, it's not up to Errol Flynn's "The Edge of Darkness". The one outstanding asset of this film though is the leading lady, a very young Deborah Kerr, who in a way sustains the whole movie. In the beginning she is just a very cheerful and happy Norwegian lass, but when the Germans come to build an oil refinery, which turns out to be a submarine base, the Norwegians get into trouble, and in order to save her father's life (Finlay Currie) Deborah has to marry the local Quisling, the local police, whom the Norwegians don't know at first that he is collaborating with the Germans (Francis L. Sullivan, awesome as usual.) When Hugh Williams as an English spy learns this on his second coming, he fell in love with Deborah during the first, he is not very happy. It's a very typical British edifying war film from the very darkest year 1942 and sides with many others of the same kind, outdated today, but still interesting for their great moral enthusiasm about surviving and fighting tyranny. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034639/?ref_=tt_urv Sundown (1941) (9/10) Gene Tierney as a budding flower at grips with nasty smuggling business in darkest Africa 15 August 2018

A surprisingly efficient and startling adventure feature from Africa by Henry Hathaway for being so young and early - this is already Hathaway completely fledged, and it's a very colourful drama although in black and white. Gene Tierney, also very young and fresh, provides the romanticism with glowing colours, and George Sanders for once plays a very unusually honest and heroic role. It's a great adventure, and the cave scenes are gorgeously suggestive in both drama, invention and cinematography. The photo is stupendous, and although rather thin, brief and superficial, it must be deemed as a great film - on a small scale, but nevertheless. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034242/?ref_=nv_sr_1

72


Johnny Eager (1941) (9/10) Robert Taylor driving cabs in the hope of Lana Turner but only wins Van Heflin 31 October 2018

The chief interest of this film is the appearance of Robert Taylor as a double and complicated character, part gangster, part renegade, who desperately tries to behave and get ordinary for society standards, as he loves Lana Turner with a father in a very high position - Edward Arnold at his hardest. Robert is not altogether successful in leaving his gangster life behind and trying to scrap it for the sake of Lana, but his ambiguous situation turning into a tragedy is saved by Van Heflin, a drunkard, as his only friend, as it proves, when all is lost. Van Heflin actually saves the film and makes it more than interesting - it's a true noir but very early as such, and Robert Taylor is surprisingly good as the opposite of all you have seen him in before - the stately perfect gentleman and saviour of the world, like the perfect knight in shining armour, here just one case for the gutter among many. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033774/?ref_=ur_urv International Lady (1941) (9/10) A beautiful singing spy and two ace spies from England and America set upon her 24 December 2018

George Brent and Basil Rathbone working together to debunk a Nazi sabotage enterprise to stop American help from going to England in the beginning of the war (before Pearl Harbour), being both intrigued by that lovely Hungarian singer Ilona Massey, who in the film is a Norwegian called Carla Nillson, but all her lovely songs are in Hungarian. It's actually the music which is the best in this film, beautifully composed and mainly arranged on classical pieces by Chopin and Liszt, but Ilona Massey's voice is really a wonder of beauty, like all her acting and appearance. This was before Basil Rathbone was established as the ultimate Sherlock Holmes, but George Brent is always completely reliable, whether as a hero or as a villain, but usually he was quite normal, as he is here. Of course, you could question the espionage technique going on here, appearing to be extremely advanced, but turning music into a system of code is rather far-fetched, although most intriguing and attractive, especially as the music is glorious indeed all the way through. Great entertainment with even some excitement and a few murders on the way, but of course, Ilona Massey as an international lady of exceeding culture, beauty and integrity objects from the start to any murders done for the cause. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033758/?ref_=tt_urv Kipps (1941) 73


(9/10) Michael Redgrave as poor simple Kipps between two opposite loves 5 February 2019

It’s a simple tale about a simple man, it was H.G.Wells’ first novel, but it was a success, and the film takes good care of all the novel’s assets, especially the characters – Carol Reed was always among the best in making actors create characters with some convincing depth. On the other hand, the lacks of the film are also entirely due to the lacks of the novel. What saves the film are the two women characters, Phyllis Calvert and Diana Wynyard, each other’s opposites but both adorable, Phyllis for her honest sincerity and rustic simplicity, and Wynyard for her overwhelming beauty and style. She always made amazing appearances on the screen, and here grown in the years to some maturity she is striking to some almost breathtaking degree; and although the intrigues of her family lead to a disastrous crisis, she is the one who doesn’t lose her face, while all the others do. The character of poor simple Kipps (or Cuyps) had a very difficult choice indeed between the two, but Michael Redgrave makes the best of it and is convincing enough. It was remade 25 years later as a musical called ”Half a Sixpence” with Tommy Steele as the singing Kipps, a sumptuous wedding cake of a glittering film with splendid music, but the music is outstanding enough here as well. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033790/?ref_=nv_sr_1 49th Parallel (1941) (10/10) Something of an instruction book of how to deal with hooligans 15 February 2019

When I saw this film again after 40 years I was surprised to find that it was much better than I remembered. It has been said about it, that it has such an original end, that you always forget how it was after some years and therefore have to see it again, just to recall that end twist of the tale, which indeed is worth watching the whole film for - it is more than two hours. It's not just Laurence Olivier (a sporty French Canadian here) and LeslieHoward (a camping writer of Indian books, both shot and wounded but probably surviving,) but also Eric Portman in one of his most revolting roles ever (although he made quite a number of dubious characters and murderers), deadly consistent as the leading Nazi officer, Anton Walbrook as his antithesis, delivering one of his eloquent speeches, Glynis Johns as quite young and adorable, Finlay Currie in a typical character of his, Raymond Massey as the only real Canadian in this very Canadian classic of a film, and for once in a rather amusing role, among many other interesting characters.

74


The main asset though is the masterful script by Emeric Pressburger and the impressing music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This was Powell's and Pressburger's first major collaboration, here Pressburger wrote only the script while Powell produced and directed, and the story is very good indeed. A German submarine steals its way into St. Lawrence and continues up to Hudson Bay, where it gets caught, and some of the crew have to try to escape across Canada to get over into US, still neutral at the time. They fail to get to Vancouver, and finally there is only one of them left, who actually gets across to US, but... It was the first of the Powell-Pressburger triumphs, but it was to be followed by many more... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033627/ Penny Serenade (1941) (9/10) Heartbreak over concerns for a child not your own 19 August 2019

This looks like an ordinary story of an ordinary family life, but it is very far from it. The humdrum character of a divorcee playing old records reviving old memories gradually transcends into a drama of much more than just a failed marriage, a good for nothing husband, a stranded career and other catastrophes, but you can always be sure of Irene Dunne turning any film into something very special, and it is very rare to see Cary Grant in tears. It begins as a happy marriage, but an interlude in Japan introduces a more critical development, and then there is the child. This will break anyone's heart. It has been called Cary Grant's best performance, and it certainly brings out sides of him you never suspected from all his comedies and thrillers. Irene Dunne doesn't sing here, but she is as she is and more reliable in her tender stability than almost any other actress. This is an adforable film, and you will never forget it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034012/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_22 Dangerously They Live (1941) (9/10) John Garfield as a doctor under the charge of psychiatrist Raymond Massey 29 February 2020

The interesting thing about this film is the plot, which should have interested Hitchcock, who would have been able to make a masterpiece of it on par with "Foreign Correspondent". The story twists about with constant surprises and unexpected turns, while from the beginning you are taken for a ride in a mystery: a girl in a taxi car crash wakes up with total amnesia, but fortunately there is John Garfield in the ambulance as a doctor to take care of the case, and he is taken for a 75


ride too, by Raymond Massey as an admired former teacher and chief psychiatrist, who is convincing enough as such but who, as always, is a very double nature. Unfortunately the direction does not take care of the enormous potential of this intrigue but rather casually just pushes on to make a rather superficial entertainment. It's fascinating, though, although the war is over since more than 75 years, and there is a lot of James Bond and Ian Fleming ingredients long before their time. John Garfield and Raymond Massey make the film and a perfect pair in this intrigue, which continues consistently to remain ambiguous to the ingenious end. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033512/ Ladies in Retirement (1941) (9/10) Ida Lupino does her best to save the situation while all her efforts only lead to a dead mortal end 16 March 2020

This is a shocking thriller in its analysis of the anatomy of crime. Ida Lupino is heroic in her care for her two demented sisters, who she wishes to save from an asylum and therefore brings them to the old lady where she serves as a maid, and naturally the old lady finds these sisters a little too weird for her liking. Elsa Lanchester is one of them and excellent as usual, while Louis Hayward enters as the rogue who tries to avail himself of the situation but only gets so mixed up in it that he gets lost in the complications as nothing turns out as he would have wanted. It is easy to condemn Ida Lupino, but at the same time you must understand her course of action, realize that from her point of view she had no choice in saving her sisters, while the film in itself is a masterpiece of suspense and cinematography in the murky landscape of fog and tortured trees with the old derelict house out in the swampy landscape... It is a shocking drama but well made. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033802/ Thunder Rock (1942) (10/10) Anatomy of a shipwreck – but did they really all get lost? 13 May 2017

A Boulting brothers film is always a stunning treat if you are interested in humanity. They always choose very special topics that touch the very core of humanity and bring out all kinds of fascinating insights focusing on the treasures of human experience. This film was made during the darkest hours of the war in 1942, when Singapore was lost and the darkness of dictatorship and its violence reached its farthest limits and leading intellectuals and writers of the world committed suicide,

76


like Stefan Zweig, and somehow the writer of this story (Bernard Miles, a great actor himself,) gets to the very heart of darkness of humanity and history. It is therefore one of those very rare and extremely metaphysical films. Michael Redgrave has given up on the world and is looking forward to the end of humanity and civilization, he doesn't care any more about anything as he wasted his best years on a lonesome crusade against fascism in Europe with no response at all, since people allowed the war to come anyway, so he absconds into a remote lighthouse beyond everything, where he doesn't even read books. But he finds the log book of of a ship of immigrants that went down by this lighthouse in 1849 with 60 lives lost. He buries himself in this manifestation of a cruel and unjust fate killing 60 innocent people, and in trying to understand this destiny he brings them back alive. Are they ghosts or are they real? They are real enough to him, and he is not alone in having made the experience that ghosts can be more alive than live people. The film exploits this strange field of occult metaphysics and succeeds in realizing all their different fates, that is six of them, including the captain (Finlay Currie), a Viennese doctor and his wife and daughter (Lilli Palmer), a suffragette 70 years ahead of her time and another family with a Dickensian background of hardship. As their stories develop and get more real the deeper you get into them, the web of humanity grows constantly more touching and convincing in its realism and gripping honesty, ultimately leading to the conclusion that there is always something left to do, you can't get rid of your human and universal responsibility whatever your disillusionment with the world might be, and, of course, the whole thing leads to a release of serenity. Someone said it was one of the most impressive movies in her experience, and I tend to agree. Even the music is perfect, somewhat reminiscent of a violin romance by Sibelius. This is a film for all times with a universal message that never can lose its actuality. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035440/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Went the Day Well? (1942) (7/10) The psychology of a war situation from defeat to retaliation in the frame of a small local village 10 December 2015

The perfect state of emergency film, made during the war to prepare for the worst, with marvellous photography and eloquent staging – the suggestive scenes from inside the church lift the film to almost a Powell-Pressburger level. However, the story is absurd, this never happened and never could happen, and the so called Germans are pathetically unconvincing, even David Farrar and Leslie Banks. The story is Graham Greene's, and it almost touches Orwellian science fiction in its lack of credibility, no matter how realistically and well done it has been made. The women and children are the best actors, and the film is mainly worth seeing for their sake. Nevertheless, in spite of its absurdity, it's a remarkable film, and some scenes are unforgettable.

77


The psychology of the drama of an emergency situation is very neatly realized, as first the overwhelming shock of the conquering attack, then the first resistance awakens to start with some poor tragically failed efforts, to eventually make a breakthrough and triumph. It's the whole story of the second world war in the nutshell of a small village in Britain. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035429/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Pied Piper (1942) (9/10) A World War II exodus story of an old man unwillingly collecting children on the way. 18 January 2015

I read the novel twice many years ago and found it perhaps Nevil Shute's best story, and he wrote many, all outstanding. Still I am tempted to hint at the possibility that the film excels the book, much because of Monty Woolley's rendering of the grumpy old Englishman sick of everything who finds himself stranded in France by the war after Dunkirk and has to accept helping two children to England although he hates children. His long difficult odyssey through war-harried France to somehow reach England with constantly more orphaned children on his hands turns him into another and slightly different man, and the realism depicting this is what makes the film so impressing still today after 70 years for its more than just convincing character. It was made before any of the turning points of the war in 1942 after Pearl Harbour and the fall of Singapore while the Germans were still pounding Moscow and besieging Leningrad, in brief, when the war was at its grimmest. Nevil Shute's story is about humanity in the depth of the despair of this world crisis, which the film admirably conveys, underlining the realism. Monty Woolley, however, is finally matched by Otto Preminger as the German officer, who represents the final conversion to humanity and couldn't make it better as a perfectly brutal and revolting officer who finally has to fall to his own humanity. It's one of the greatest stories told from the second world war, and the film honours it. Strange though that this very important and wonderful film should be so hard to find on internet. A remake was made for TV in 1989 with Peter O'Toole which also pays credit to the story, such a story can only be told well, but that film can't be found at all. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035189/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Secret Mission (1942) (8/10) British spies, one with a French accent, on a mission to liberate France with their French ladies. 9 May 2017

They are all in it, James Mason, Michael Wilding, Hugh Williams, Stewart Granger and even Herbert Lom as the one German officer who is not a complete caricature,

78


and the glorious ingenious music adds to the general flavour of good humour and fresh spirits, which was needed in the darkest year of the war, 1942. It's war propaganda, of course, but not as daft as it looks from the start. There are some excellent scenes, and you don't always hear James Mason with a French accent complaining about English food in preference of the French kitchen. There are a number of bottles in the film, and some are even opened, but the only wines served is the champagne for the Germans. James Mason is about to relish a well preserved bottle of Calvados hidden from the Germans when the party is interrupted by an unnecessary argument. It all ends up with some real banging and bombing in the end, when the Germans really are blowing it, providing a grand finale, raising the film from a trifle to some interesting entertainment. The best scene is the exciting moment when Michelle is listening to the British broadcast and the Germans barge in just in the right moment when Hitler is speaking – but only as an example of German propaganda shown by BBC, but the Germans leave Mademoiselle with respect and full of admiration for her German loyalty. As an entertainment it's well worth seeing, and James Mason never fails to make any film he is in interesting enough to keep you awake all the way. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035301/?ref_=nv_sr_3 The Major and the Minor (1942) (9/10) Ginger Rogers masquerading as anything but herself, and Ray discovering her with one eye. 9 July 2017

In Billy Wilder's first American comedy he secured the stage and his basis for the rest of his days in America. His films were always good, and the remarkable thing is that he never repeated himself - every film he made is thoroughly original, and already in his first hit he ventured on some very bold challenges to spice his audience with which proved more than successful. The script is ingenious, and although you know from the start that they will win each other in the end there are many troublesome question marks on the way, and the great issue is how on earth they will manage themselves out of this mess of masquerade and intrigue. Ginger Rogers was always a superb comedienne, and Ray Milland was never better than in the beginning - he later turned to more and more doubtful characters, from "The Lost Weekend" and on, but here he is still shining. The triumph though is the script, so eloquent, intelligent and ingenious, and every detail, although the intrigue many times turns into precarious and dangerous ground, is perfect. There is even some trying suspense, as Ginger at the telephone while the whole army is after her. Great entertainment on level with the best screwball comedies, and yet this one is rather overlooked and unknown. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035019/?ref_=nv_sr_1

79


Son of Fury (1942) (10/10) Tyrone Power fights it out thoroughly with injustice and fate but is rewarded with Gene Tierney. 26 October 2017

A delightful film from the best years of Hollywood, when they really could make a good film out of a good story, and this one is glittering from beginning to end with eloquent innovations, telling the story of a hot-blooded aristocrat robbed of everything, dishonoured and kept down but returning with a vengeance. All the obligatory ingredients of a successful Hollywood film are here: a dashing central hero of good looks and great spirits, an outrageous crook of revolting villainy, more than one great romance, fantastic adventure, gorgeous sailing ships, and best of all: Polynesian belly dancers, actually bringing back the best days of "The Mutiny of the Bounty" and its extreme romanticism. Gene Tierney makes one of her first and best appearances of a sort she could never repeat, Tyrone Power is here still on top, and George Sanders makes a typically unsympathetic bully with bravura. Alfred Newman's music adds to the glitter, and although it's a rather superficial story, it's great adventure, and the romanticism must appeal to anyone. This is an irresistible treat for any lover of great romantic adventure on the screen. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035360/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Grand Central Murder (1942) (10/10) Very entertaining murder mystery without any clue to how she was murdered alone in a car 14 February 2018

There are many suspects, everyone being involved with this cabaret star and several wanting to marry her, while at the same time she is chased for other reasons. Too many had a motive to murder her, but the biggest problem is that it's impossible to say how she died. Detective Van Heflin, superb and interesting as always, quarrrels with the inspector throughout the film about this and other things, and there are even some fisticuffs on the way and guns pulled but not fired. Another mysterious death at the station adds to the confusion of the plot, but ultimately everything makes sense in spite of all. The main asset of the film is the brilliant dialog and the ingenious direction. The dialog fires intermittently all the way, you get as little chance to relax for a moment as all the suspects, and they are all confined on the spot of the murder for the investigation with an occasional visit at the theatre with some theatrical controversies to add to the complex turnings of events. It's wonderfully entertaining all the way, the flow is terrific, there are constant dramatic surprises and several efforts at getaways, but ultimately it all sums up, and you have saved another evening and can walk away satisfied, while you only feel some need to see it over again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034808/?ref_=nv_sr_1

80


Street of Chance (1942) (9/10) The awkwardness of amnesia when you are two people and can't remember who the other one was. 16 February 2018

Burgess Meredith makes probably his greatest performance and is completely convincing as the man in the awkward position of having lost all memory of the latest year of his life and finds himself hounded by hoodlums and eventually wanted for murder. Claire Trevor is less convincing as the lady involved, who wants to get away with him and help him abscond whatever it is, while the character stirring the tale and bringing it up to excitement is lame old grandma (Adeline De Walt Reynolds), who can only communicate with her eyes but does so the more. As the thriller develops, it grows more exciting and gripping all the way, and as usual the truth is a shocker - everyone is innocent except the least suspected. Burgess Meredith's experience of this nightmare situation of a lifetime, like being locked up blind in a cage of wolves or worse, that is killers or the electric chair, couldn't be made more realistic by his acting, as this outrageous strain forces him to extreme rationalism, which is exactly the normal human reaction in such circumstances - you set in a higher gear, and thus he manages to make his way out of the death trap of innocent ignorance caught in hopeless darkness of hopelessness. It's a small great film with plenty of stuff for afterthought. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035388/ This Above All (1942) (10/10) Engaging war drama of love and conscientious objection 16 February 2018

Tyrone Power is completely deprived of all his Hollywood attributes here, he is shabby and unshaved like a bum, his good looks are purposely disposed of and as much altered as possible to the contrary, his character is doubtful, while Joan Fontaine outshines him all the way and constantly more and more, which makes it impossible not to burst out into tears when she does. It's a chapter out of the most critical point of the war after Dunkirk at the beginning of the long nightmare blitz of London, and all the bombing scenes couldn't have been made more real and convincing. Tyrone is a veteran from Dunkirk, almost decorated, bitterly disillusioned about the war and its glory and finds no meaning in any aspect of the struggle, while Joan in bursts of impressing honesty gives him second thoughts. But there is much more to it than their epitomized romance.

81


Perhaps the most important ingredient is the other characters. Thomas Mitchell actually saves the show, Alexander Knox is the only one who immediately and thoroughly understands Tyrone's predicament of conscience, Gladys Cooper is gloriously superior as always, Nigel Bruce adds some vital Dickensian comedy, Philip Merivale as the doctor is another vital contribution, and there are others, some not even mentioned. On the whole, it's a perfect masterpiece of film pinpointing the very eye of the storm of the second world war. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035431/ The Keeper of the Flame (1942) (9/10) Spencer Tracy seeks out Katharine Hepburn and ends up in trouble with the truth. 17 February 2018

This is a very controversial film since there are so many different aspects to it. It’s both a political drama, a mystery thriller, a journalist’s predicament of handling the truth, a great American tragedy and an interesting debunking of fascism. It is made in the most critical year of the war, it is definitely an ideological argument and taking a stand in the war although that is hardly mentioned and there are no political references, but it manages to delve into the darkness of manipulated politics to pinpoint the heart of the matter. What happened to Robert Forrest to make him change from an idealist and paragon for all democratic America into the opposite? What made Saruman change from a white magician into a black? That is the real issue here, and there is no answer. The only one providing an answer is the mother (Margaret Wycherly), who blames the fall of Robert Forrest on his wife, he should never have married, and she is the first one to mention the word ‘murder’, but Spencer Tracy has to discard her as insane. However, no other explanation is offered anywhere in the film. Spencer Tracy seeks out Katharine Hepburn, the widow of Robert Forrest, to write the story of his life and make it the eulogy of a hero. The widow readily accepts him and will cooperate fully, since she has no objection to the maintenance of her husband’s glory and legend. But the journalist is not satisfied and realizes something is deliberately concealed from him. That’s why he spites the widow to visit the mother on his own, and that’s where the drama of the film starts. The more you dig for the truth, the worse it stinks, they say, and although you ultimately find the truth here, the film does not tell the whole story. The journalist tells the story for sure, but the key to the issue is never revealed or explained: how did it happen that such a glorious hero turned from idealism to opportunistic power madness? What made him change his mind and bring about his own fall? Was it only pride, vanity and egoism? Someone tries to hint at that for an explanation, that he lost God for egoism, but he was a clever and intelligent man, and it is never explained how he could get caught in such a trap. A critic says the portrait and case of Robert Forrest was modelled on Charles Lindbergh, but that is very far-fetched, and there are only vague parallels –

82


Lindbergh never had political ambitions, although he clearly sympathized with fascism and racism. Racism is not mentioned here, fascism only perfunctorily, while the problems here are entirely human. I saw this film some 12 years ago and was impressed, I greatly looked forward to seeing it again for a closer look and found it an entirely different film. That tells something of its complexities. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034936/ The Black Swan (1942) (10/10) Tyrone Power, Henry King, George Sanders and all the others in top gear. 19 February 2018

A feast for the eyes all the way in brilliant technicolor, Tyrone Power fences his way through arduous battles and drinking bouts in clinch with George Sanders and Maureen O'Hara, one more difficult than the other. Thomas Mitchell stands by him, though, and saves the general situation as usual. Laird Cregar makes an imposing Henry Morgan, and even Anthony Quinn is seen here as a quite young and savage pirate, perhaps learning the craft for his later "The Buccaneer" 16 years later. There is not much to say about this film, since everything is just excellent, Tyrone Power at his most dashing, Maureen O'Hara describing a fascinating conversion, George Sanders having the time of his life as the reckless Captain Leech and all the others in constantly recurring naval battles and fencing sprees. Alfred Newman's music adds to the overwhelming technicolor romanticism, and here is a curious detail: the main theme of his music is actually very close to one of the main melodies of Puccini's opera "The Girl of the Wild West", probably not snatched from there but probably subconsciously borrowed. In brief, a swashbuckle film just couldn't be much better. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034522/ To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) (8/10) Fooling around with the marines up to Pearl Harbour 25 February 2018)

This is a better film than you might expect. Since it deals with the marines and Pearl Harbour, anyone would expect some thrilling war drama with battles and casualties with great smoke and fire, but it's actually a very shallow comedy all the way up to the final moment. John Payne fools his way around at the military school by order of his father to perhaps make a man some day but almost only dribbling away his entire time by flirting with the nagging Maureen O'Hara, who can but see through his

83


bluffs all the way but takes him for a ride by his own lies, so there are some hilarious moments on this way of nonsense. The real actor here though is Randolph Scott as the major, and you might expect some severe long term personal duel developing between them, but their enmity gradually takes a totally different and interesting course, which turns out to be the backbone of the film and gives it a definite character of realism. Don't expect any battles or drama or even war incidents, but enjoy it as an interesting entertainment telling the story of how a soldier is made. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035447/ Eyes in the Night (1942) (9/10) A blind man and a dog against overwhelming odds of intriguing adversity 4 March 2018

Edward Arnold is always a warrant for a film worth seeing more than once and with increasing interest. Here for once he plays the lead as a blind detective, and the question is whether he is the lead or his dog Friday. They work together and are indispensable to each other, but still also make it well on their own, even when trapped or locked up in a basement. As an experienced blind detective Arnold has many bags full of tricks, and some of them he gets the opportunity to use to turn a grim drama into a hilarious comedy. Getting drunk and playing the organ in the middle of the night to disturb all criminality going on, he brilliantly turns into the highlight entertainment of this film. The clever intrigue involves a theatre company as a cover up for serious counter spionage activity to endanger the nation, which Donna Reed as a young easily seduced girl is innocently unaware of and duped by, while her mother Ann Sheridan immediately senses the alarm. The interplay between these two characters is another interesting angle to the tale, while the dog ultimately steals the show. I saw it some ten years ago but enjoyed even more to see it again. This was in the beginning of Fred Zinnemann's long run as an outstanding director, but already here his excellence is impressing. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034711/?ref_=tt_urv Fly-By-Night (1942) (10/10) A doctor on the run for having had his unwanted patient killed, with any amount of complications‌ 1 July 2018

This was probably Robert Siodmak's first Hollywood feature, and it's an amazing picture full of innovations and surprises, the action never stops but constantly goes

84


on in a frantic pace, and the ingenious story is overspiced with splendid good humour. It's a very dark noir indeed, a theme typical of Hitchcock's most exciting thrillers, and only the beginning sets you off att rocket speed into action, as a highstrung victim of some sort escapes from a mental asylum, runs into a doctor, stays with him and gets murdered at his place, while the doctor is convicted for the murder. The rest is a romantic nonstop escape together with a beautiful woman, an artist, who begins by betraying him... Robert Donat and Robert Dummings made many such roles, but here it is Richard Carlson together with Nancy Kelly. When at last they find the real professor and he is brought to explain what the plot is all about, this results in a most unexpected high gear finale, worthy of Hitchcock's best. I loved this film, a rare treat, and a splendid entrance for Siodmak into Hollywood. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034740/?ref_=tt_urv Moontide (1942) (10/10) Chamber drama on a barge involving very much drink and a few murders, mostly accidental 15 August 2018

This must be both one of Jean Gabin's and Ida Lupino's best films, although Thomas Mitchell's acting also is better than ever, for once not entirely sympathetic but rather tragically pathetic, and even Claude Rains plays a very unusual part for his qualifications - he stands out as the most mysterious character in this off hand fishing village drama of California, where there is nothing else to do but to work and drink, and you are usually out of work. It's a very Frank Borzage kind of setting and intrigue, which makes it only the more precious for its marvellous direction - Fritz Lang was part of it, and not only Archie Mayo. Ida Lupino enters as a suicide and goes through a marvellous transformation during the course of worrying events, ending up in almost an accidental murder case. You never get to know how Pop Kelly really was murdered or by whom, since everybody involved in the probably accidental murder must have been more than just drunk, and nothing is ever proved, although Ida could be right in her final conclusions. The one who should know everything and probably does is Nutsy (Claude Rains), who keeps sympathetically quiet about it. But it is Jean Gabin's film above all, superbly seconded by Ida Lupino at her very best. The whole film is worth watching just for his entrance. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035082/ This Gun for Hire (1942) (10/10) Alan Ladd as professional killer getting soft with Veronica Lake 85


15 August 2018

One of those ideal thrillers you just have to return to for getting brushed up now and then, with Alan Ladd entering film history with his very reticent and restricted way of acting adding to his menacing toughness, and Veronica Lake sailing up as the first great romantic queen of the 40s. The story is even by Graham Greene, although geographically moved from England to California and involving much greater business and world affairs than just a gun for hire; but the Greene atmosphere is definitely there, marked especially by small details, such as the invalid girl dropping her ball (what eyes!) and the dinosaur landlady. To crown it all, there is Laird Cregar in one of his too few but the more impressing performances, here as an oversensitive crook who orders murders about but can't stand blood. Robert Preston plays a minor part as the police but is quite convincing, getting mixed up with his passions for his girl Veronica and what justice demands. It's a noir and a tragedy, but such an entrance into film history by Alan Ladd just had to make him a milesone of a film star. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035432/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Next of Kin (1942) (10/10) How easy it is to unintentionally betray one's own country 22 August 2018

I loved this film. It is so genuine, all the persons playing part in it are so very much alive and convincing, that you get under the skin of them all, whether they end up badly or not, even the spies and the crooks. This is not the only war film Winston Churchill wanted to ban, there were a number and several of the best, and this is one of them. Fortunately he didn't succeed in banning any of them. Especially so long afterwards, 76 years later to be exact, it's immensely rewarding to see such an example of supreme realism all the way, of ordinary people, officers and soldiers, spies and victims, in their very various precarious situations, all under severe pressure, some under threats of death or worse, but all keeping on working and straining themselves for what everyone of them believes is for the best of all. The Germans are not depicted as crooks and villains, they are rather very well objectively filmed, like also the Britishers. They are all doing an extremely difficult job under extreme strain, and this was during the year when the war reached its deepest crisis. It is almost perfectly documentary in character all the way. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035121/?ref_=ur_urv The Hidden Hand (1942) (8/10)

86


A rich family house haunted by psychopathic intrigue 12 October 2018

The least you can say about this film is that it is original, but to a degree that makes it incomparable with any other film - the closest of kin that I can think of is "Arsenic and Old Lace". It's a criminal comedy, an absurd horror story going burlesque, a family drama and tragedy going over the top, and a technically advanced "Family Addams" tale with a very black sense of humour. Milton Parsons as John Channing leads the show together with Cecil Cunningham as Lorinda Channing his sister, and they at least have great fun. The others are just there to be fooled around with. It's a kind of freak show, anatomizing the essence of greed and its unpredictable selfdestructive turns, while the leading comedian actually is Willie Best as the chauffeur, he is one of the few survivors, and he has a very last word. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034850/?ref_=ur_urv Rossini (1942) (10/10) Rossini's success, his wife and Beethoven. 12 October 2018

There are many interesting things about this delightful biopic of the most delightful of Italian composers, played by Nino Besozzi, whose likeness with the composer is strikingly fortunate. His future wife and main primadonna Isabella Colbran, singing most of his female leading parts, is played by Paola Barboni, who also is just about perfect. There are various other prominent characters, the king is splendid, and also Paganini shows a great likeness to reality. There are marvellous theatre scenes from his major operas, both behind stage and among the turbulent audience; but perhaps the most remarkable matter about this film is that it was made in the middle of the war in the most difficult year 1942, of which you notice nothing in the film - it is clinically free from fascism or any politics. Rossini remains the most flippantly spiritual of composers, he became the richest of them all and was a tremendous success all the way - until his primadonna and wife lost her voice and he lost his zest completely, also after his mother's death. After his last opera "William Tell" he was practically silent for almost 40 years until his death, with only very few extra compositions (like "Stabat Mater" and "Messe Solennelle"), which show however that he was still a supreme master - he called his last masterworks his "sins of old age". Most of the film shows Naples and Rome, but towards the end Rossini also celebrates triumphs in Vienna, where (after his most exuberant overture) he meets Beethoven, in which moment the film turns solemn. For the first time there is other music than Rossini's, and its the second movement of Beethoven's seventh symphony, which is played in full, giving the Beethoven scene a haunting character, especially as the weather is rainy and bleak. Then we move to Paris, where Isabella

87


loses her voice, and the film ends almost like a Requiem. It's a great film, a splendid homage to the composer, allowing in full music to justly play the leading part. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034131/?ref_=ur_urv The Young Mr Pitt (1942) (9/10) Carol Reed makes a great historical film during the war 3 January 2019

Robert Donat is of course the leading character here, playing both father and son William Pitt with sincerity and honour, but Robert Morley as the indomitable opposition leader Charles Edward Fox is at least equally impressing. It's a very human film watching one of the most important and famous British prime ministers from the inside, his drinking, his health problem, and so forth, but the times around 1800 are conscientiously caught on celluloid, and Herbert Lom practices his great part as the best Napoleon ever before King Vidor's "War and Peace" 1956. It's a great history lesson with great human insights, and although a propaganda film during the war, as a history cavalcade from the days of George III it is wholly convincing and most entertaining, especially the election scenes. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035586/ Fra Diavolo (1942) (9/10) The true story of a great lover, adventurer, brigand and politician 3 September 2019

This is a true story of timeless interest, as the central rogue made quite a career in his short life, advancing from a mountain brigand in the hills around Naples, leading a a band robbing travellers, to becoming a leading figure of the state with considerable political influence, at the same time leading his bandits in a guerilla warfare against the French under Napoleon and having two mistresses at the same time, marrying one of them but remaining faithful also to the other, both sincerely loving him and never betraying him, here made into a spectacular movie in the middle of the second world war, very much romanticised and given an alternative ending to the tale, while in reality he was hanged by the French at only 35. The film is well made, it's all very realistic, the costumes are extremely picturesque, especially those of the brigands, the actors are also doing very well, the ladies are lovely, but best of all is the music, excellently well composed and chosen to match both frenzied chases by horse or coach, ballroom parties (with Weber's ´"Aufforderung zom Tanz") and idyllic pastoral moments of romance and tender love. The film is rather constricted, only 80 minutes, but it offers everything, and as it is a true story on the whole, the satisfaction it gives will remain.

88


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033630/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Joan of Paris (1942) (9/10) Paul Henreid on the run with others, saved by Michele Morgan 20.October 2019

This is Paul Henreid's and Michele Morgan's film, and Thomas Mitchell as the priest and Alan Ladd as the younger refugee add spice to the suspense of the story. Five Englishmen are stuck in Paris and meticulously searched for by the Gestapo, so it's a run for your life film all through. Michele Morgan is quite innocent as a bar maid, but she gets involved, sharing all her troubles with a small statue of St. Joan with an altar in her home, but her own name is also Joan. Paul Henreid finds her, and there is a relationship building up in all its idyllic beauty under hard press of a nightmare reality. It's an enjoyable film and interesting as one of Robert Stevenson's early contributions, and even if you see the film through to the end, the nightmares of its torturous harassments will remain with you long after, as if the second world war was only yesterday. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034919/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Hatter’s Castle (1942) (9/10) A thoroughly brutal display of tyranny 15 November 2019

It's a ghastly story and as close to a horror tale as you can get within the limits of realism. It was A.J.Cronin's first major novel and very Dickensian as such, telling an alternative Scrooge story without the main character ever learning his lesson. So things go consistently from bad to worse all the way through. James Mason and Deborah Kerr, both still very young here, provide some kind of a balance against all the wicked tyranny but not enough to bandage the very serious wounds of this gruesome detailed account of tyranny. Robert Newton is magnificent as always in his consistent viciousness, and all the other actors are perfect as well. The one thing you could object against here is the meaning and reason for A.J.Cronin to tell such a story. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033692/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Nazi Agent (1942) (8/10)

89


Twin brothers of opposite standings with Nazi Germany leading to complications 12 February 2020

This is an early Jules Dassin film and already carrying various typical Jules Dassin characteristics: the ingenious plot, the great suspense, the development and deep probing of the characters, while it most of all is a Conrad Veidt film. This great actor who is nowadays almost completely forgotten was almost as dominating a character player as Emil Jannings but a totally different type: tall and superior with an eloquent style always giving an unmistakable impression of high intelligence, he excelled in spy roles and other extreme villains but also made leading parts like Gwynplaine in “The Laughing Man” and --- in “Doctor Caligari’s Cabinet”. Here he plays a couple of twins, one a bookseller and stamp collector in a small shop in New York, and the other the Nazi consul of the German embassy. The consuil wants to use his brother’s shop for clandestine correspondence, and when the poorer brother refuses to cooperate there is a conflict, and which one of the brothers survive? The answer is Conrad Veidt. The plot turns into a romantic melodrama, since there is a female pianust involved with the consul, a refugee who has no choice but to cooperate with the Nazis, while also his old butler plays an important and very sympathetic oand human part. It’s obvious that Jules Dassin attached great importance to his character. It is not a great film, but it is definitelty a very promising beginning for Jules Dassin, and Conrad Veidt is incomparable as usual. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035114/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_24 Nightmare (1942) (8/10) Brian Donleavy as an American getting caught up in an espioange mess in London and Scotland 27 February 2020

Brian Donleavy finds himself mixed up in a curious muddle of spy intrigue, as the corpse he initially agrees to help Diana Barrymore get rid of most unexpectedly returns next night to the same place with knife in his back and all, so they have to do away with it a second time, which proves more difficult, as this is an advanced spy intrigue still in the beginning of the second world war with Nazis all over the place working for Germany in Britain, particularly Scotland, as it appears later. It is not a bad film, although rather mediocre and superficial, but you must not miss the whisky war in the end. Diana Barrymore is beautful and makes the right impression as something enigmatical out of this world, while Brian Donleavy blunders on as usual with obligatory American rudeness. It's great entertainment but not much more, especially today, since the war and its initial perils are over since more than 75 years.

90


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035127/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Murder in the Big House (1942) (9/10) Van Johnson doing his best as a greenhorn journalist slipping ínto a great job 6 March 2020

This is quite comparable with "His Girl Friday" a few years earlier, it is the same kind of virtuoso journalism with the dialog rocketing like crossfire all through, and the story is ingenious and interesting. A new journalist happens to get the chance of a first rate scoop, when he notices irregularities in a prematurely executed convict, who had something to tell and had threatened to do it, if he was executed. He didn't have to do it, as the journalists posthumously found it out anyway by clever tactics and maoeuvres, and the road through this mess of smokescreen jungles is a sustained thriller, Van Johnson doing his first great lead, followed by many others, in spite of his rather undramatic appearance but demonstrating his stage presence entirely by his integrity and personality. It also reminds very much of Richard Brooks' "Deadline" ten years later, an even more advanced virtuoso journalism thriller, while this one has a good position between the two chief masterpieces in the genre. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035098/ Tales of Manhattan (1942) (10/10) The remarkable journey of a frock coat through various hands hit by destiny and ending up to dress a scarecrow. 24 March 2020

The master director’s hand of Julien Duvivier is very notable in the first episode of the film showing the drama of a triangle between actor Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth and her husband Thomas Mitchell, but then the film turns to comical trivialities with Ginger Rogers and Roland Young, while the highlights are the episodes with Charles Laughtion as a conductor and Edward G. Robinson as a bum. W.C.Fields adds some hilarious comicry in his lecture at a gathering of teetotallers on the topic of the damnation of alcohols which doesn’t quite turn out the way it was intended, while Paul Robeson dominates a finale in the deep south. The hand of Ben Hecht as the script writer is very prominent here, the stories and the dialog show him off at his very best, and it is a tremendous entertainment with some very profound social tendencies as well, but it is Robinson and Laughton here you will never forget. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035415/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

91


Fingers at the Window (1942) (8/10) An actor getting involved with a flippant murder victim who has no idea why someone tries to murder her 28 March 2020

Lew Ayres is always an interesting actor, while Basil Rathbone always is superior to anyone, but the remarkable thing with this film is the ingenious story. Someone wĂĄlks about in the streets in the dark axing people to death, and each time the murderer gets caught but is totally bewildered and has no idea why he has done what - there gradully grows an assembly of demented axe murderers completely lost to reality. Gradually you are notified that they have all been hypnotized to commit these murders, but why would anyone want to hypnotize simple citizens to lose their minds in committing senseless murders? Especially one girl, Laraine Day, seems to be persecuted by one insistent murderer, who constantly fails in the intendded murder, because Lew Ayres steps out of his theatre. He gets it on his mind to solve these mysterious senseless murders and almost ends up a victim himself, as his activities are objected against by a professor Moriarty-kind of villain, a psychiatrist played by Basil Rathbone. Actually ther intrigue here is very close to the standards of Sherlock Holmes, while there is no Doctor Watson here (although numerous other doctors) but only the inquisitive Lew Ayres. There is nothing very special about the film besides the verĂ˝ inrtriguing plot, it is a rather casual entertainment, but you are bound to think a lot of the story afterwards, as you will never be able to get away from the impression of that fearfully indomtable villain. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034732/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 The Constant Nymph (1943) (10/10) Mysteries of music and love 22 July 2017

There are some major keys to the essence of this tragedy of music and love. One of them is the old composer Albert Sanger, played by Montagu Love, who is the knowledgeable one about music and who clearly sees the foibles of Lewis Dodd (Charles Boyer), the famous wannabe composer, all modernist, but with some hope in him. The old man sees this hope and encourages it, and he dies with something of a testament to Charles Boyer of an idea to "true" music. Another who sees the heart of the matter in music is his daughter Tessa, played by Joan Fontaine, who got an Oscar nomination for her heartrending performance. While she sees through everything she suffers from a sensitive heart and easily gets "palpitations". Her sensitivity is grossly overlooked, underestimated and ignored by her surrounding people, especially by her cousin (Alexis Smith) who marries Charles

92


Boyer who really loves him but never understands him, – even less understanding her "so much younger" cousin, who loves Charles Boyer so much deeper and more understandingly. The tragedy is unsuspected at first, it comes stealing in gradually to in the end affect everyone with overwhelming heartbreakingness, while no one really is guilty. No one could foresee it, not even Alexis Smith, who makes a performance second only to Joan Fontaine. Music and love triumphs in the end but at a terrible cost, while at the same time the truth of love and music stand victorious transcending the pettiness of human relationships, ambitions, careers and all that. Charles Boyer is always perfect in his own way, so natural and dynamic in whatever part he plays, Joan Fontaine and Alexis Smith are both at their best, Charles Coburn reliable as always, and even Peter Lorre has a somewhat pathetically important part in the tragedy, which is of women, love and music. This is an extremely female matter, but Edmund Goulding handles it with great understanding and care, his films are always deeply and thoroughly human, he also made "Dark Victory" with Bette Davis, "The Razor's Edge" and "Nightmare Alley" with Tyrone Power for some examples, and here he reached perhaps his closest touch to the essence of the human heart. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035751/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Münchhausen (1943) (10/10) The Baron Von Munchhausen still the same in the 20th century, only slightly more serious. 11 May 2015

This is indeed a wonder of a film and next to something of a cinematic ideal, giving associations directly to George Méliès and his pioneering cinematic idealism, committing himself to any experiment just to fulfil his ideals. But this is not only next to an ideal film but also a literary masterpiece with an impressingly brilliant and ingenious dialogue all through, written by Erich Kästner. To this comes most appropriate music gilding all the best scenes, adding also oral beauty to the visionally perfect dreamworld, enhancing highlights like the ride on the cannon ball, on which the Baron in a typically delightful whim raises his hat to salute the audience, just one of innumerable instances of glorious genius. It's even hilariously funny, the cuckoo duel taking the prize for unforgettability. This is definitely a lasting and outstanding example of cinema at its best, satisfying all criteria for timelessness in beauty, story, imagery, humanity, humour, imagination and inspiration. This is one of those films you can always return to for watching again with new eyes discovering new gems and details of wonder, grace and cinematic glory. Just the opening scene is a marvel, showing a sumptuous 18th century ball gradually being infected by anachronisms, turning the whole thing over into lasting timelessness...

93


A friend of mine made an important comment: "It has to be mentioned that Erich Kästner couldn't use hos own name, but had to use the name Berthold Bürger. Kästner was one of the authors whose books were burned by the Nazis in 1933. He became pacifist during the first world war and wrote the famous "Kennst du das Land wo die Kanonen blühn?" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036191/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Silver Fleet (1943) (10/10) Double cross Dutch style in the second world war with tragic success 3 December 2015

This is a wonder of a film, completely unknown and gradually being discovered as an exceptional gem of priceless interest in the flood of war propaganda films of the second world war. Emeric Pressburger wrote the original story, and you can trace his hand everywhere, so that it actually could be suspected on reasonable grounds that this was an ordinary Powell- Pressburger film all through, but Vernon Sewell, who lived to be almost 98 and made many praiseworthy films, together with Gordon Wellesley softened the script somewhat and made it more stringent with marvellous results for the action, the developing plot of constant surprises, the very sensitive nuances of the characters and all supported by the perfectly adapted dramatic music by Allan Gray. Although Ralph Richardson makes as eloquent and clearcut a character as ever, always reliable for interesting and straight-backed integrity, the most interesting performance is by Esmond Knight as the leading nazi, making quite a nazi character out of the ordinary in hilarious serious caricature. Pressburger disagreed with turning the character thus, but it's a great success – you'll never forget his plater of spaghetti, perhaps the best scene in the film. In brief, this is a surprisingly sparkling film of suspense and intelligence to discover and enjoy and with great delight never to part with. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036356/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Devotion (1943, released 1946) (8/10) Over-sugared effort to get a hang of the love life of the Brontë sisters 26 July 2017

Not a very satisfactory romanticization of the Brontë sisters and their obscure love life, since very much is wrong, but there are some good points as well. Ida Lupino as Emily makes the film together with Arthur Kennedy as Branwell, and they are convincing enough. Olivia de Havilland is all wrong as Charlotte, and everything she does is wrong – she has never been less convincing. Paul Henreid is all right, although his character is very constructed. It's true that he later married Charlotte, he even made her pregnant, and because of that she died at 38 in childbed only a few

94


years after her sisters and Branwell, so the widowed father had to bury them all, who is completely shadowed away in the film and is given no real character at all. What saves the film is Sidney Greenstreet as Thackeray, suddenly you are brought to a convincing character and reality of literary London in the early Victorian days, and another very successful detail is the music. Korngold succeeds in giving just the right atmosphere by his soft and subtle music, very much like Bernard Herrmann, and also the other music is well found: There is Beethoven and Schubert, some Lanner, some Chopin and nothing later than of that age, except Korngold himself, of course. Olivia de Havilland makes a mess of the sisters' engagement in Brussels, and that's the worst part of the film, a completely misapprehended Hollywood conjecture of the worst kind, and Branwell's death scene is also a vulgar exaggeration. Well, there is so much wrong with this film, that it's a miracle it's worth seeing at all, mainly because of the truly Brontëan conversation, eloquent and witty all the way, especially when Branwell is involved, Ida Lupino's strong and convincing performance (as always), the successful rendering of the environment and the atmosphere, the music, while the worst blunder of the film is the complete obfuscating of Anne Brontë. The film states that two of the Brontë sisters were geniuses. No, they were three, and all the sisters were agreed that Branwell was the number one genius among them. Compare it with "To Walk Invisible" of last year, the one perfect Brontë biopic, completely true and almost documentary all the way although enough dramatic as well, while this film will land and stay in the shadow. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038474/?ref_=nv_sr_1 They Met in the Dark (1943) (7/10) A mess of intrigues with James Mason alternating between two girls or more 29 May 2017

A rather fishy intrigue going at any lengths to cause as much confusion as possible, as it basically only consists of loose ends all over, but it all starts at sea in the second world war, then proceeds to a court martial where James Mason appears to be convicted and dismissed from service, whereupon he shaves his beard and tries to get hold of a girl 'Mary' who has some awful things to tell him, which she never gets a chance to, as the old lorn house she has made an appointment with him in is empty except for a dead girl with a mysterious paper note clutched in her hand, which body is discovered by another girl, leading them to some circle of spies disguised as an entertainment company with mind readers, harmonica players and another singing girl, while James Mason is more interested in one girl than another, or is it the other way around? Anyway, there is nothing wrong with the acting or the intrigue– making, James Mason is always worth enjoying, but that's about all in this film – the death mystery in the desert house provides the only excitement, which never is satisfied, as the body disappears and never is recovered... Is it a comedy, a satire, just an entertainment made for kicks, is it seriously meant at all, or was it just made to fill

95


some gap? The film inspires as many questions as an almost total lack of answers, but it provides at least some momentary entertainment... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036428/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Cabin in the Sky (1943) (9/10) A hilarious phantasmagoria to carry you away beyond mortality, 27 September 2017

Fireworks of imagination in an intoxicating phantasmagoria of splendid innovations, Lena Horne and Duke Ellington crowning the show both musically and dramatically – the grand scene at John Henry's bar transcends most musicals in sheer flippant enthusiasm. The story is a kind of mental experiment, playing with life and death, and the gamble is high as you don't really know which is which. Rex Ingram is marvellous as Lucifer Junior, laughing his sides off throughout the picture, and the musical numbers are the real treats, especially the church scene in the beginning apart from the grand finale at the bar. The dialogue is ingenious throughout, and just to follow the witty argument makes it worth returning to the film to study it more in detail – there are so many fantastic details to catch up on the way, as the film practically is overloaded with splendid whims, and while it's all too realistic in its drama of life and death, it's at the same time like a fairy tale or parable, from which you can learn a great deal. This was only one out of many films by Vincente Minnelli. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035703/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Edge of Darkness (1943) (9/10) The Norwegian resistance against the German occupation in WW2 in towering pathos for two hours., 1 October 2017

Errol Flynn is the star here, but his part is actually minor in the context of this panoramic insight into a small Norwegian fishing village in the far north of Norway and its villagers, their life under duress of the Germans and how an extreme conflict is unavoidable. It was made in the most critical year of World War II, when the Germans at the height of their power started to lose. There are many memorable and eloquent scenes here, well up to the highest standard of Lewis Milestone's works, like the great scene in the church, when the villagers are having a conference under cover of a Sunday service, which actually introduces the drama. Many small characters also rise to greatness during the progress of the film, like the doctor who is forced by circumstances to abandon his absolute neutrality and pacifism, like the supposed traitor Hans who desperately tries to prove that he is not, like the pious mother who even she finally converts and abandons her firm belief in peace, like the priest who in the end fires the first shot, 96


and many more. Errol Flynn disappears almost entirely in this great drama of the necessity of at any cost resisting and fighting any foreign occupational force. It's a great film in spite of its tremendous bathos of exaggerations, and although in the beginning you encounter a village where everyone seems to have wiped out everyone, it's extremely interesting to see how this drama gradually evolves to its apocalyptic fatality. The music by Franz Waxman adds to it, making efficient use of the Norwegian national anthem, a Lutheran hymn and of course Siegfried's death by Wagner. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034694/?ref_=nv_sr_5 The Dark Tower (1943) (8/10) Interesting trapeze thriller with scary hypnotism involved 4 March 2018

This was Herbert Lom's first great performance and his most revolting one. Who can avoid getting the creeps as he oils his way into constantly deeper and more dangerous influence of the circus as the primadonna is defenseless against his powers and everybody just have to cooperate for the sake of survival? Of course, the intrigue is not entirely convincing, however could such a brilliant and clever beauty like Ann Crawford fall a prey to such a charlatan? Orson Welles made a similar show void of all credibility six years later in his film of Joseph Balsamo, a great adventure film spoiled by the hypnosis racket. Herbert Lom is actually more convincing and above all more nasty in his very dark and eerie character. There are some brilliant circus scenes, though, and the insight into the life of a circus with its very different characters all struggling together with difficulties of survival of the circus will keep you busy and attached with sympathy to the whole plot. David Farrar is always worth seeing, he is usually an honest character at risk, and here more so than ever. It must have had some influence on Carol Reed when he twelve years later made his "Trapeze", which would be interesting to see again as a compliment to this one. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034636/?ref_=tt_urv The Moon Is Down (1943) (7/10) Germans all murderers and Norwegians all victims in bathos war propaganda 4 May 2018

Compared with Lewis Milestone's "The Edge of Darkness" from the same year and on basically the same kind of story, Steinbeck's and Nunnally Johnson's film falls flat on its overdone bathos - this isn't credible, as if Steinbeck had exclusively written this

97


book for propaganda. The Germans are all ruthless villains (with two exceptions), and the poor Norwegians are all victims. It's all black and white and nothing between. The only interesting nuance is Peter van Eyck as the young German lieutenant who falls in love with a local girl, which incident is the most interesting one in the film, as the Germans previously have killed her husband. Cedric Hardwicke also adds some character to the film by his rather moderate appearance with some bitter experience from the previous world war - he knows what it is all about, which the local idiot Quisling does not. Lee J. Cobb as the old doctor also makes the film worth seeing, and the final scene gives this rather sordid and superficial war occupation account like also the book its validity, which is lacking up till then. It's not one of Steinbeck's best novels, and it's not one of Irving Pichel's best films. It's too much allied war propaganda preaching hatred of the Germans to the audiences and too little of the true human drama, which "The Edge of Darkness" succeeds in emphasizing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036170/ The Yellow Canary (1943) (10/10) Intriguing conspiracies and dark secrets in the fogs of London and Canada 14 May 2018

This is a very clever thriller for its many fascinating details, its splendid dialogue and its total unpredictability. Anna Neagle makes a performance to go down in history, if all her other films will be forgotten, this one will not. Richard Greene also makes one of his best contributions, but the major male actor here is Albert Lieven as the Polish officer, who also makes probably his best performance. He was later to play the lead in "Beware of Pity" (on Stefan Zweig's famous and only novel) but is rather bleak there in comparison with this fascinating character; but this film is full of double characters, as if the major theme of the story and film was just that: double role play. Herbert Wilcox, director and producer and Anna Neagle's husband, made his mark by witty innovations and brilliant dialogue, which places this spy thriller on a higher level than most, especially of the period. The intrigue is fascinating all the way, as you never can guess what will happen next, the film actually starts off with a profound mystery, as a man is found dead where someone just has been signaling to the Nazis bombing London in the 1940 Blitz, a mystery which leaves you hanging, and it's not until late in the film when you almost already have forgotten it that it is resolved. The very introduction to the film is also worth a remark. Like in "Hamlet" two watchmen are chatting in the fog at night when the Blitz comes, but what they are discussing is Shakespeare. The other says Bacon, and there is an argument about it, until the second quotes Doctor Johnson: "If Bacon didn't write Shakespeare, he certainly missed his chance." The scene is London and Canada, that is Halifax in Nova Scotia, and you reach the

98


other scene exactly half way into the film, where Anna Neagle is stranded as a suspect spy or as a security risk placed under constant surveillance, while there is much more to it than that, as the action will prove. Lucie Mannheim also makes a fascinating performance as the old lady Orlock, but the real original treat is Margaret Rutherford as one of her many delightfully eccentric old ladies - she dominates every scene she is in and gives a special relish of refreshment to the whole film. In brief, this is and remains a timeless treat for everyone who would enjoy being intrigued. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036549/?ref_=ur_urv The Cross of Lorraine (1943) (7/10) Jean-Pierre Aumont as the only Frenchman in a French war prisoner film 28 June 2018

The film is hopelessly marred and scarred by its propaganda nature, which brands it with a character that debases it for history when the war once is over, which is a pity, for it's a great story with great actors, who all do their best, and there are some instances which are more realism than propaganda, especially towards the end, as the intrigue thickens, when prisoners start to escape. It's Jean-Pierre Aumont's film, he is the most interesting character, as you never really know where you have him, as he constantly has to change footing according to what is happening around him, while finally his character emerges in full glory. Gene Kelly is also quite good as an impossible slugger who is completely quashed by Peter Lorre and his Germans, but his annihilation is not quite complete. You can't keep down Gene Kelly for long. It's the boy in the end who introduces the cross of Lorraine and lifts the whole performance to a higher level. This is very far from one of the best war films, but it certainly has some good scenes worth seeing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035769/ The Battle of Russia (1943) (9/10) Impressing American documentary of the Russian part of the war 29 October 2018

99


This is certainly not only one of the most singular documentaries ever made but also one of the best. Frank Capra and Anatole Litvak made it together, striking at the opportunity of documenting the fate of Russia in the war and catching an extensive and comprehensive picture of the Russian situation while it was fresh and still going on, concentrating on the siege of Leningrad and the battle of Stalingrad, ending with the definite turning point of the war. The entire documentary is dominated by Russian music, 75-80% Tchaikovsky with some moments of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and folk music. The account is effective and intelligent all the way, the film rolls on like the war without mercy in tremendous overwhelming realism, while at the same time there is much vital information here that never came across to the west. The only objection against the film anyone could have is the aggressive tone of the speaker, which is as hard as the war, - but even that fits into the picture. It's a great classic documentary for all time without any Hollywood embellishments or tricks, everything is documentary and true, and although it IS a propaganda picture, made to gain support for the Russian cause in the war from the public in the west, it's brilliantly done, and the glory of the victories and ordeals of Stalingrad and Leningrad WAS THERE and must never be forgotten. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036629/?ref_=ur_urv The Adventures of Tartu (1943) War espionage farce with Robart Donat dashing off as a Romanian 23 November 2018

Glynis Johns in a very early performance is the most interesting part here, a young and small but determined victim and one of the few casualties on the right side, while the Germans are being disposed of in masses. Nothing wrong with Robert Donat, he is always super-excellent, but what bothers about this film is its total lack of credibility. It was a wartime propaganda film, as such it is hopelessly outdated, and it merely stands being viewed today as an amusing entertainment. The intrigue is ridiculous, spies living by lies and double-crossing and even triple-crossing, and they all expect to be believed. Only Glynis Johns is honest. Then there is Valerie Hobson, here at her most beautiful, and who wouldn't do anything for such a woman and believe whatever she tries to fool you to believe? She and Glynis Johns are very appropriate counterparts to Robart Donat's Munchhausen type of a clownish spy, and the least credible part of it all is that he could possibly get out alive. Well, some actually do, but not Glynis Johns. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035612/ The Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943) (9/10) A weird criminal comedy mixed with hilarious horror 10 December 2018

100


This is actually an ingenious plot almost reaching the level of Conan Doyle's worst mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, as there are things complicating the investigation all the time, with some left over question marks on the way which will bother you after the film is over. An old man of a grand family is about to die and ordains that his will will not be opened until 13 years after his death and then only by his granddaughter, then a small girl of 8, when she gets 21. The house is closed up in the meantyime, and when she comes there to open the will 13 years later the murders start increasing as the relatives start coming. There are many comic instances constantly interrupting the investigation and any tension and suspense and some weird surprises as well. But it is terribly entertaining. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036189/?ref_=tt_urv Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) (8/10) Exasperating farce with some entertainment moments of relief 17 April 2019

You don't want to see this film again, but only because of the relentlessly tiresone Eddie Cantor, who imposes on you throughout the film by playing both the main characters - it's impossible not to get fed up with him. He is only funny when he gets into trouble, and fortunately he does that all the time, so you will indeed not lack entertainment in this film, but that is also all you'll get. The terrible ordeals of Eddie Cantor are constantly more hilarious, but fortunately there are also some other characters saving the film, if only for rare and brief moments. John Garfield evokes overwhelming enthusiasm and applause by almost strangling Eddie Cantor, Errol Flynn stands for the best musical number by bragging about how he won the war with other drunkards at a London pub from which he constantly gets thrown out, Bette Davis also sings a song about how all possible lovers are either too young or too old for her, Olivia de Havilland and Ida Lupino are irrecognizable as clowns, Dinah Shore sings well but too many songs and all sugared, while the ace of performers actually is Alexis Smith, dancing - I have never seen her dance on the screen before. But all these brief moments of excellent entertainment you have too wait for in this too long and ridiculous film - all that is missing to complete the drivel is Laurel and Hardy, but Eddie Cantor is even worse than they. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036422/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943) (8/10) Golddiggers in the Pacific among gangsters and pretty girls 12 May 2019

101


This is a quirky hotch-potch of extreme adventure and romantic drama, starting off splendidly at the "Isle of Forgotten Sins", an institution of very attractive ladies threatened with being closed down by authorities, with Gale Sondergaard brilliant as the mistress in charge of a set of very young pretty ladies not to be trifled with, one having a gun and using it. To this blatantly romantic place John Carradine returns with his rival and buddy Frank Fenton to their favourite Gale, and there is a splendid fight between them tearing the whole place to shreds. This colourful beginning could have introduced some interesting Conradian intrigue, but instead it goes goldhunting the hard way by diving for a wreck. The following intrigue is very thin, and there is only a tremendous storm helping it up. There are many ridiculous elements, it's a cheap B-feature made on a poor budget, which you can see on all the boat scenes - the waters are constantly as stale as in a bath tub. But there are some exotically curious ingredients as well. On this god-forsaken lewd island among bums and wenches a pianist appears playing off-hand PathĂŠtique by Beethoven and a difficult Chopin waltz just like that. He is actually one of the crooks and ends up badly. The music is impressing all through, by a certain Leo ErdĂśdy, and a typical mark by the director Ulmer - he was Austrian and always used advanced music in his films. It all transcends from a general mess of disasters and murders and reckless fortune huntings into a comedy, and John Carradine should be happy with Gale Sondergaard having the last word. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036046/ The North Star (1943) (10/10) The idylls of Ukraine before the German invasion, that turns even its doctors to murderers 8 September 2019

This is a grim war drama made extremely realistic, while at the same time it's a great musical film, mainly because of the great score by Aaron Copland, skilfully suiting the music to the occurring scenes. The first half hour is a delightfully charming musical following the life of the Ukrainian villagers to their parties and feasts of spring and summer, and the music is very convincingly Ukrainian and original - you want to join the dancing parties. Then comes the war as the most drastic possible change into a nightmare without end, involving the deaths of many of the previously happy and joyous party people. Farley Granger, Anne Baxter and Dana Andrews are all very young here and a joy to behold as very convincing and vital Ukrainians, and at least there are a few survivors. The leading German is Erich von Stroheim, who also is an operating surgeon, and his final argument with Walter Huston as the Ukrainian doctor is not quite as convincing as the rest of the film. The cinematography is terrific, you get a very strong impression of the actual nature of the war brought upon many millions of innocent people by the meaningless aggression of the German dictatorship, and if there are minor flaws and outdated details, like some propaganda stuff, you will forget it as negligeable: the overwhelmingly strong impression of the film as a realistic rendering of the German 102


invasion of Russia and Ukraione 22nd June 1941 will remain, as this film will remain invaluable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036217/ Forever and a Day (1943) (9/10) The tragedy of a house and its residents through two centuries 1 February 2020

This is like a cavalcade travelling through history, commencing in Napoleonic times and ending in the Blitz. There are many poignant moments on the way, and the cast contains almost all the best names of the period. Among the most memorable ones are Charles Laughton as a drinking butler, Claude Rains as the only miserable tenant of the house ever, while the real moment of truth is in 1917 when the Americans enter the war. There is a very sensitive scene between Gladys Cooper and Merle Oberon that will stick on your mind for a long time, and Roland Young as the husband with Robert Coote as the blind veteran add to the impression of this scene. The second world war, which provides the beginning and end of the film, comes a little beside the point, since the main issue is the life that all the residents of the two families alternating in peopling the house, bestowed on the house and created a continuity, that not even the second world war could destroy. The message of the film is about continuity, how nothing can change what has been, which will go on forever even if only as memories, which provides quite some food for thought and afterthought. It's a very different film resembling almost none other, except in some ways Noel Coward's "Cavalcade" of 1931, which was something similar, ending in the first world war. This is in the same style and equally touching and profoundly human, which makes it a joy to behold and to remember. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035897/ The Phantom Baron (Le Baron FantĂ´me) (1943) (9/10) Gothic horror blended with idyllic comedy 27 February 2020

This is a Gothic curiosity written by Jean Cocteau, who plays the spooky baron himself, eventually turning into a mummy. His sister comes there with two minor girls, being broke and trying to find a new home, why they settle in the spooky castle, a place like fetched directly out of Edgar Allan Poe. The girls make friends with a loical peasant boy, who eventually grows up into Alain Cuny, always a most fascinating actor, especially for his performances in "Les visiteurs du soir" and the colour version of the fifties with Gina Lollobrigida and Athnony Quinn in "Notre

103


Dame de Paris"("The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in a very French version,) where Alain Cuny plays Claude Frollo, the mad priest. Here he is a most sympathetic character winning more sympathy all the way, until his real identity is revealed, and then there is a party. It is very expressionistic, reminding of the best days of German expressionism, and the story is not too bad - it even finds a happy ending with everyone most content. It's the Gothic scenes however that make the film worth watching, especially the extremely suggestive somnambulant scene, which is quite outstanding in cinema history, for its poetry, beauty and extreme romanticism. The film is a curiosity and invaluable as such, fitting into the pattern of other Cocteau films like "The Beauty and the Beast" and "L'aigle Ă deux tĂŞtes" and is extremely atmospheric - while you could do without the comedy element. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122392/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Purple Heart (1944) (9/10) A true story of conditions at their worst for war prisoners, a kind of prelude to 'The Manchurian Candidate' 10 July 2017

Although you wouldn't believe it, this is actually a true story from the beginning of the war (1942), and the fall of Singapore takes place during the course of the trial, which the Japanese interrupt for celebration including judges and attorneys. Four of the eight war prisoners were really executed, while four survived prison camps in China with difficulty (see the review by 'ustye'). It's a great story of hardship in Japanese prison, as the Japanese take out the prisoners one by one to torture them leaving them maimed for life, one losing his mind, another his voice, and so on. Of course, they go dreaming in the necessary therapy of escapism, and those are the finest sequences of the film, contrasting sharply against the prison sterility. The Japanese are not satirized or exaggerated in their manners in spite of this being made during the war, and two of them actually end up as casualties as well. It's an odd film for Lewis Milestone but as well made as any of them, only somewhat more sinister. Dana Andrews, Farley Granger and Richard Crenna grace the cast, but the Intriguing conspiracies and dark secrets in the fogs of London and Canada best speech is actually not Dana's final speech but the previous one by Lt. Peter Vincent (Donald Barry), which is almost Shakespearean in intelligent eloquence. It's a hard film of hard times under inhuman circumstances, and yet it is very edifying and gives much afterthought - however would you act under similar circumstances? Their final decision how to vote for their destiny is a triumph of humanity. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037197/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Suspect (1944) (10/10) Charles Laughton at his best trying to get out of an extremely unhappy marriage

104


4 April 2017

He is married and stuck for life with a monster when he meets the ideal candidate for a life's companion. It's a thriller of great suspense, and your sympathies are with Laughton all the way as he is pestered by a nosy inspector and the worst possible immediate neighbour, who manhandles his wife and blackmails him. The conclusion is devastating and leaves you with a permanent impression of the deepest sadness and pity. At the same time, it leaves you mercifully hanging in the air. Objections could be made to some turns of the tale. The inspector is a bit too sharp for credibility, and Laughton is a bit too fast in his sudden decisions, but that's the flaw of Mr. Marshall's character. Nevertheless, the actors are all perfect, especially the women, and it is beautifully filmed. A perfect film to get upset by for the shortcomings of human nature. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037330/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Summer Storm (1944) (9/10) A peasant girl as a femme fatale causing the downfall of a society. 1 January 2018

There are many remarkable circumstances in this film. Anton Tchekhov died in 1904. The film starts in 1919 and then goes back to 1912, not any earlier. It's a Tchekhov story all right, all the melancholy and deep knowledge of human nature is there, all characters are in style and very Tchekhovian, in fact, the film couldn't be more Tchekhovian, and yet it goes far beyond what Tchekhov ever could imagine, as if it was written by Tchekhov after the revolution. It's a very sad story framed by typical hilarious Tchekhovian human comedy. Both Edward Everett's priceless character of an old befuddled aristocrat and Linda Darnell's scandal beauty are thoroughly comedians, like also her hilarious father (Sig Ruman, in one of HIS best performances,) and all the local people around them. The only tragic character is George Sanders as judge Petrov, and, to some degree, his fiancĂŠe Anna Lee, who sees the tragedy but can't do anything about it, the only one to get out of it whole. George Sanders was an exiled Russian aristocrat himself, and this is one of the few films in which he gives his original character away. He later learned such perfect English that no one could suspect he had been anything but an English snob, but to his misfortune he got out of the Russian revolution alive. All his characters were generally bitter frustrated superior losers usually digging their own graves by pride and conceit, with a few exceptions, like in Hitchcock's "The Foreign Correspondent". Here he is the victim of his own uncontrollable destiny, as he finds himself unable to rule his own passion. This film is his tragedy, he actually gives a song in Russian at one point, while the other characters, above all Linda Darnell and Edward Everett Horton, take over the film.

105


You must accept her irresistible beauty, and you must understand how both Horton and Sanders had to give in to it. She is simply shamelessly, outrageously and overbearingly beautiful, such a career just has to come to a dreadful end, while poor befuddled Horton just can't understand anything of what is happening. In spite of his own tragedy, which doesn't seem to become him much, as he is incorrigible in his own way, he remains the one surviving comedian of this ludicrous but very melancholy tragedy, like in fact a human epitaph on the fallen old Russia. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037325/ Till We Meet Again (1944) (10/10) Gestapo killing nuns in occupied France by mistake 12 February 2018

This is probably the greatest nun's story ever filmed. Barbara Britton is perfect as the nun who strictly keeps what she promises and follows her conscience whatever the price. Ray Milland is also perfect as the pilot, with a family back home with two children and a loved wife and who doesn't take any advantage of his rescuer but only enriches her experience and shares his love the only possible way. Lucile Watson is perfect as the mother superior refusing to deal with the Germans in any other way than what two earlier wars taught her. Walter Slezak makes one of his typical roles as a helpless victim of destiny, doing what he can to help the situation and only failing utterly. The greatest asset, though, is the story, which is a triumph of war thriller intrigue mixed up with existential and moral issues, an occupational force testing the conscience of the victims. The film has been criticised for its one-sided view of the Nazis as thorough villains and bullies and nothing else, but any occupational force is like that. There has never been any exception. Their banditry adds tension and drama to the film, but that is not their only function. That's how they were. Ask any Frenchman. A superb film and one of Frank Borzage's best. Surprised that it is not better known. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037379/ This Happy Breed (1944) (10/10) A very ordinary family with very ordinary problems appealing to everyone 26 March 2018

This homely classic of Noel Coward and David Lean is like a corollary to Coward's earlier masterpiece "Cavalcade" 10 years earlier from the 1890s up to the thirties, but this is more concentrated on family life only, and although it's a small world there

106


are some human dramas in it all the same, principally enacted by Kay Walsh as the young and flippant Queenie, the problem child of the family, courted by John Mills as a sailor, who is willing to sacrifice anything for her no matter how bad she behaves. The main actors are Celia Johnson and Robert Newton, though, matched by the inimitable Stanley Holloway, and some of the best scenes are with him, particularly the long scene of the farewell letter. Celia Johnson always made stark impressions as something of the ultimate woman and mother and more so here than ever. It's to the advantage of the film that there is not much of the outside world intruding on the cozy family life. Of course, there is some political engagement by one of the sons-in-law, the great strikes make themselves noticed, there is som fascist agitation at Hyde Park Corner, but there is nothing of the great depression, and none of the great political affairs disturb the family. One of their most charming ingredients is the case of the old mother. She is always discontent and finds a perfect partner to nag with in her unmarried daughter, Celia's sister, and Robert Newton is very categorical in his final comments on her case. It's a masterstroke of Noel Coward to make such a perfectly sour and negative person appear as the most hilarious part of the story. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037367/ Phantom Lady (1944) (8/10) A puzzling murder intrigue gradually unfolds as a set-up leading into a labyrinth of hopelessness 1 July 2018

I was less pleased with this one than with his earlier "Fly by Night" of 1942, the script here is not very convincing, and the tempo is too slow, sometimes even dead slow. Ella Raines makes a good performance, and so does Thomas Gomez as the police inspector, while Franchot Tone is terrible. The film makes an effort at trying to make his character psychologically credible but fails utterly. There are many other flaws in the script. The trial is a farce, and the other policemen are as far from being credible as policemen as they can get - such policemen would never have been accepted in the force. But there are some excellent nightclub scenes, and the maze of an impossible intrigue brings us into some eccentric expressionism, but it is ultimately Ella Raines who saves the picture. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036260/?ref_=tt_urv The Mask of Dimitrios (1944) (10/10)

107


Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet on the track of the most elusive possible criminal 3 July 2018

Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are both at their best in this outstanding noir of far-reaching qualities, many depending on excellent direction and fascinating cinematography. In addition, the story is absolutely superb. Peter Lorre is an innocent writer with exclusively human interest, who on a visit to Istanbul encounters the case of the discovered dead body of the notorious criminal Dimitrios, universally infamous for his ruthlessness and sensational criminal career. Peter Lorre becomes interested in researching the truth of such a man, which brings him on tracks to Sofia, Belgrade, Geneva and Paris. On the way he meets with Sydney Greenstreet, who shows a keen interest in Peter Lorre's research. And so they join hands in a most intriguing human research for the truth, and both are more rewarded for their interest than they bargained for. This is a classic noir and one of the best, the atmospheric settings are irresistible, Greenstreet's enigmatic acting fills you both with awe, misgivings and reliefs, and for once Peter Lorre is a wholly sympathetic and innocent character. The finale is not disappointing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037055/ The Woman in the Window (1944) (9/10) Professor Robinson gets into trouble without end by someone else's woman 4 July 2018

He is a middle aged bachelor of some stability and position, when he sees a fascinating portrait in a window of a lady, and in the next moment sees the lady herself, watching his reaction, which appears to be a sport of hers, as many come to watch that portrait of her. She is not wicked or lewd, but she is dangerously attractive and has apparently attracted the wrong kind of man, who comes importuning as professor Robinson is cozying up to her, which leads to terrible complications, and there the nightmare starts, which mercilessly rolls on getting constantly worse as murders and casualties start piling up... It's one of Fritz Lang's most accomplished nightmare thrillers, maybe his best, and it's perfectly real all the way. Joan Bennett is attractive enough to be convincing, at her first entrance she is in fact absolutely irresistible, while Raymond Masset adds to the towering nightmare by his creeping investigations. You couldn't get into worse trouble than Robinson does here, and the conclusion is perfectly logical in all its tragedy, while there still remains something left to surprise him... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037469/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Since You Went Away (1944)

108


(8/10) Family life among women at home with their men indefinitely hanging out at war 15 December 2018

This is a sobber to the extreme, you will need many handkerchiefs, and there will be a contest as to who cries the more, the audience or the players. These are all excellent, especially Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Monty Woolley and Robert Walker, and Max Steiner's music drowns the whole thing in overwhelming sweetness. There is not much action, although all the men are soldiers, only one of them dies, and you will have to wait for three hours to know what happened to the main fellow of the intrigue, who is never seen except very briefly on a few photos. This was David O'Selznick's first film after "Gone With the Wind" and Hitchcock's "Rebecca", it is the story of a mother and her two daughters at home from January until Christmas of 1943, and hardly anything happens, except that they wait and have a few crushes. Monty Woolley adds a well needed portion of acrid spice, while Jennifer Jones just melts. It was great in its time, but after Vietnam and the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan this feels very out of context today. Some films never age, as they reach the zone of timelessness, while others age by getting stuck in their time. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037280/ A Canterbury Tale (1944) (10/10) A cathedral of a film 10 January 2019

The first time you see this miracle of a film you will be confused, because you will constantly lose yourself in it. It is like a labyrinth, constantly branching out in different directions, getting lost in petty details, getting caught in a mystery of a ”glue man” sabotaging young girls by ruining their hairs with glue, and even getting caught up in a local war between small boys. But there is a method in all this confusion. The film has a very carefully composed form, gradually leading up to the arrival at the cathedral in Canterbury with one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful grand finales in film history. You have to see this film several times, you have to learn to grasp it, to understand its ingenious almost architectural construction, with all its meticulously collected details, all actually joining together to form this cathedral of a film. It was the one film of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in the 40s not to be a success, but on the other hand it is perhaps the most intriguing and intellectual film of them all, reaching almost a metaphysical dimension without ever leaving the ground of realism. Here is of course in the beginning a reference to Chaucer’s Canterbury tales and pilgrims, and it recurs a few times later in the film, but the realism is absolute all the way, leading you straight into the timelessness of the cathedral like into another dimension of glorious infinity. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036695/?ref_=nv_sr_2

109


Guest in the House (1944) (10/10) Anne Baxter totally convincing as too clever a psychopath for her own good 12 May 2019

This is a rare film unlike all others in its very carefully studied psychology, made almost like a documentary, but at the same time it is a thriller which constantly grows more exciting and has a dramatic climax for a finale with the unexpected reappearance of the bird problem, which is what finally gets the better of the intelligent and expertly manipulative Anne Baxter in one of her most typical and horrible roles, and she is too good at it. Ralph Bellamy as a perfectly frank and honest artist, always speaking his mind freely and acting spontaneously, is her counterpart, falling for her tricks to begin with but always realizing his mistakes. The one film that this reminds of is Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" of the same year, also an intricate study in the mechanisms of a manipulative mind too clever for his own kin. The one scene that sticks the strongest to my mind is when Evelyn Heath (Anne Baxter) opens the window to let in the storm and at the same time spy the departure of Ann Proctor with vicious triumph. It's a great film, it can't be denied, a chamber and family domestic drama, but in curiously extremely romantic stage settings by the sea in Maine enhanced by the expertly suggestive music, adding depth to every scene of dramatic impact. The most shocking scenes are always with the girl, how Anne Baxter infernally starts using her for her schemes and then stops at nothing. It is actually a horror thriller of high psychological documentary value, with a warning for all times, to beware and never recognize a psychopath too late. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036886/ The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) (10/10) One of the best and greatest war films – with a message 17 May 2019

The amazing thing of this film with its great story spanning 30 years is that it is based solely on one poem, which is constantly recited in different verses throughout the film. It begins in 1942 with Irene Dunne as a nurse in a hospital expecting many war casualties including her son, and it ends with her receiving her son. It includes the great romantic affair that led to her marriage in 1914, interrupted in its very honeymoon by the outbreak of the first world war, where her husband is immediately called to duty and never comes home again. Irene Dunne was one of the most serious actresses in all film history, all her parts import some human depth usually by some greatness of tragedy, and this film is one of the best examples. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and romantic and at the same time almost unbearably tragic, but the tragedy is veiled and hidden in the romantic beauty, which makes it a great film. Elizabeth Taylor makes one of her first

110


appearances as the girl Betsy, courted already as a child by Roddy McDowell but later secured by a very young Peter Lawford, who provides the great final hospital scene in atrociously grim and realistic irony, as the American soldiers repeat the 1917 entry into the war with glorious marches while the dying soldier in the hospital asks his nurse to describe the glory. This is one of the greatest Pietà scenes ever showed on film, and it is almost documentary in its very objective realization. It could be seen as a sequel to the great Noel Coward production of “Cavalcade” 14 years earlier, one of the greatest pacifist films, but here we are in the middle of a second world war, and pacifism has never been further away. It is too late for pacifism, when mothers and wives already have buried their sons and husbands as meaningless casualties of war. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037462/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Frenchman’s Creek (1944) (9/10) Joan Fontaine as a softer Lady Dona, and her French pirate qualifying as a gentleman and artist 1 July 2019

This is more lavish and romantic than the 1998 remake, and the colours are more flamboyant here, while the later version was more basic, strict and concentrated, sticking to the point. There are no politics here, King James and King William aren't even mentioned once, there are no Dutch intruders, and the children play no significant part, whereas in the 1998 film politics is given a dominating bearing, and Lady Dona's daughter plays a very significant part. I think I would prefer the Tara Fitzgerald version, she is more realistic and straightforward as a character, always making her point, while Joan Fontaine is too girlish. Both versions are good though, they have different but complimentary qualities, this one is definitely more romantic and dressed up for Hollywood, while the Tara version is more convincing. I think though I would prefer Arturo de Cordova to Anthony Delon, although Delon is more French, while Cordova is hopelessly Mexican, this one was even shot entirely in California, while the English version of 1998 was shot on location. Here are also Basil Rathbone in a typical character of his, but Nigel Bruce as Lord Godolphin is much to be preferred to the modern one. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036840/ Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) (9/10) Cary Grant on a honeymoon presenting his wife to his aunts - with an unexpected visitor 5 July 2019

111


This is one of the blackest comedies ever made, and please overlook the fact that Cary Grant is constantly overacting, the real star of this film is Raymond Massey, whose tremendous character will stick in your mind forever. Chauvelin is nothing compared to this, he is the prodigal son who after many years chooses to return home to his aunts together with a doctor (Peter Lorre) who has got him out of all kinds of troubles before, but they enter in a very sensitive moment when his brother (Cary Grant) is newly wed, presenting his young wife (Priscilla Lane) to their idyllic aunts, when the blooomingly crazy cousin (John Alexander) in his madness makes a few family secrets impossible to hide any more. No one could suspect the old ladies of the slightest evil thought, and even less their bloomingly crazy nephew, and yet there is some blood-curdling business about his digging about in Panama. Raymond Massey enters just in time to make all family scandals explode in flagrantia, and the only one who ultimately gets away is Peter Lorre. Cary Grant is saved with Priscilla Lane, but that is all - no one else is let out any more. The play is ingenious and effciciently screened by Frank Capra, he never made a film like this before or after, but its dark sense of humour will go deeper into your mind than could possibly be healthy for anyone. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036613/ Between Two Worlds (1944) (10/10) Life between life and death 15 October 2019

Edward A. Blatt didn't make many films, and this was one of his last ones, and indeed it's one of the most special treats ever shown on the screen. It is made on a play by Sutton Vane, who as a soldier Ă­n the first world war suffered a severe grenade shock damaging him for life, but after some time (like Remarque with "All Quiet on the Western Front") he accomplished a play and a book expressing his indescribable feelings of being utterly lost and alienated from this world. It was made a film earlier with Leslie Howard in 1930, but that is only a filmed play with no cinematography and stale stage settings resulting in a regular bore, apart from Leslie Howard's performance, while this film has taken better care of the idea and is replenished with fascinating cinematography, supported by Erich Korngold's maybe finest film music and an elite of outstanding actors all doing their best. Leslie Howard's part as the importuning journalist is handled even better by John Garfield, while the central figures are Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker as the married couple. He is a concert pianist from Vienna who has fought with the resistance in France and now is escaping the war by trying to get to America from London, but he is denied a visa and intends to kill heimself, when his wife finds him in the last minute, and the action proceeds from there. It reminds very much of Jean Cocteau's "Orpheus" six years later, it's the same kind of dreamy world and existence out of reality, it's the same kind of metaphysics, and

112


although they are totally different as films, there is a metaphysical kinship between them. A film couldn't be more perfect and fantastic. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036641/?ref_=nv_sr_2?ref_=nv_sr_2 A Song to Remember (1945) (10/10) Hollywood Chopin allegory of great ingenuity and inventiveness, but the pathos is true What does it matter if everything is wrong as long as the acting is superb, the music splendid and the message gets through? Best of the actors, who are all well found and at their best, is Paul Muni as his teacher, who makes the most memorable character. Cornel Wilde was rightly nominated for an Oscar for his convincing rendering of the Chopin pathos, Stephen Bekassy (a true Hungarian) makes Franz Liszt appear at his best (no Marie d'Agoult here dragging the show down,) and Merle Oberon as George Sand makes her a dream of charm of beauty to a degree Aurore Dudevant never even dreamed of, including her transformation into an almost vampiric cold-blooded monster of overbearing pride and egoism. Howard Freeman as the feared and hated critic Kalkbrenner is perhaps the one who comes closest to reality. George Macready as Alfred de Musset you would have desired to see more of – his character is brought to the fore in the complementary "Impromptu" 1991 – these two totally different films on the same basic story match each other perfectly, each one filling the gaps of the other, both being important and outstanding, this one more romanticized, "Impromptu" more strictly true but without the message. It is the message which is the basic thing in this film as it was in Chopin's life – his love and passionate compassion for Poland. His music is a struggle for life as long as he lived, since he had death breathing in his neck all his life, and at the same time the perfect illustration of Poland's struggle for survival under the Russian suppression. This message of freedom is clearly conveyed by this film, which it should most be remembered by. All the gorgeous details, the splendid Technicolor, the eloquently illustrated friendship with Liszt, Merle Oberon's majestic scenes and of course the overwhelming beauty of the music only serve to underline the message of freedom accentuated and illustrated by some of the best music ever written. To this comes the important subplot of the struggle for Chopin's soul showing his 'bipolarity' – George Sand taking a stand for his personal welfare and French ego, protecting him against his teacher, who knows Chopin's soul is Polish, and this eventually gets the better of him, he dying for it in the struggle and George Sand being left behind. This is a true aspect of the Chopin complex which is completely omitted in the later equally outstanding Chopin comedy "Impromptu". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038104/?ref_=nv_sr_1 They Were Sisters (1945) (9/10)

113


Interesting anatomy of a family tragedy with a number of outstanding performances 9 November 2015

This is a women's film but extremely interesting for anyone to study in detail, as there are four different female characters developing in different directions, and each one is of paramount interest. The question is whose is the most interesting. Is it Phyllis Calvert as the strongest character who is doomed to a childless life with the best of husbands but makes the best of it by her honesty, or is it Anne Crawford as the more liberated Lucy, who is the one who from the beginning sees through the ugliness of James Mason's character, is it Dulcie Gray in her heartrending martyrdom gradually driven to the despair of alcoholism by the subtly increasing cruelty of her husband, or is it Pamela Kellino as James Mason's daughter torn between her loyalty to her after all loving father and her empathy with her mother? The drama is nonexistent at first, everything starts in a perfectly idyllic setting where nothing could even be suspected to go wrong, but gradually the tragedy sneaks in to grow surreptitiously into an overwhelming drama of human disintegration. It is marvellously composed, and Hubert Bath's idyllic music adds to it. James Mason of course dominates the whole stage from the first to the last in the extremely difficult performance of being convincingly inhumanly cruel after having started off as the perfect charmer, but every performance here is great, in a fascinating family chronicle of relationship complications that could happen in any family. Nine points at least. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038161/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Waterloo Road (1945) (9/10) Wayward destinies at large in wartime London under the bombs... 15 May 2017

This is a highly compressed social drama in wartime involving the lives of many different characters from various social layers of London, excluding only every glimpse of any upper class. Doctor Alastair Sim introduces the events from a view after the war, whereupon you are miraculously transferred from a bombed out London street to what it was before the ruins. He has a fairly good view of the whole chart of ingredients of the human destinies involved. The main characters are Stewart Granger and John Mills, both as very young men och rivals of the same woman, who is John Mills' wife, but he is in the army. He gets an alarm letter of the situation from home and takes leave without leave to handle the situation in his own way, with his fists. Action is very fast from beginning to end, you have to keep very alert not to miss any detail, also the father with his doves tells a special story of his own, and all the beautiful young ladies... One just giving a glimpse of herself is Jean Kent as a hairdresser with a beauty and intelligence of her own. She is the only one apart from Dr. Sim to see through the debatable character of Stewart Granger. He makes a villain but not without charming and sympathetic traits, you must admit he has to be successful, until the verdict comes...

114


Above all, it's a brilliant story told with impressive efficiency, nothing is lost on the way to the towering finale with its advanced acrobatics for a settlement, and every story is told to the full. Even the doves are finally satisfied, and the Doctor finalizes this masterpiece of a kaleidoscopic human record with the same charm as he introduced it with. It's a film well worth seeing several times, since you have to miss something every time... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037447/?ref_=nv_sr_1 A Place of One’s Own (1945) (9/10) A small ghost story that is made much of and couldn't have been made better. 28 July 2017

The interesting thing here is the life of the house, and how its new owners gradually get acquainted with it and its mysteries. It has been abandoned for 40 years since the daughter of the last owner passed away mysteriously and left it haunted. She was a recluse and used to just sit and play the piano – so there is a lot of Chopin here playing in the dark, as one of the major manifestations of the haunting. James Mason and also Dennis Price at first are quite convinced there are no ghosts, it's amazing how decade after decade all actors on the screen who are subject to parapsychological phenomena like haunting and ghosts and poltergeist and what not, always persist in the stupidity of refusing to take it seriously, vehemently denying it, until they are faced with undeniable facts of the supernatural. They never seem to learn anything. Barbara Mullen is the one sensible here, she feels the house is haunted from the start and always acts wisely – she is an experience. She realizes that everyone who has lived in a house leaves something behind that goes on living there, as part of its soul, and that is perhaps the lesson of this film. It is very educating, and James Mason is at his best as usual and for once older than his age, and Margaret Lockwood has some great scenes for herself of hysteria in the mirror and things like that – she was always one of the best at haunted ladies. She and Dennis Price became another couple, and for a whole lifetime, in the later film "Hungry Hill" (1947) from Ireland – with no haunting at all, though. (See my last review.) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037179/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Cornered (1945) (9/10) Dick Powell on the hunt for the needle of his wife's killer in more than one haystack and getting constantly caught red-handed.

115


Dick Powell made his name in silly musicals in the 30s before he under Edward Dmytryk's direction suddenly turned into a hard-boiled cleaner in murky business with plenty of fisticuffs, as in "Murder, My Sweet", the first real noir. He suffered for it even then, but here he gets into constantly double trouble investigating a mess of things that all the time gets more messy and intricate, as he searches for his wife's killer after the war first rowing across to France, making visits to Marseille and Berne and ending up with the final mess in Buenos Aires at the mercy of sophisticated posh people and two very beautiful ladies, while it's impossible even for the audience to guess who, if anyone, isn't a gangster. He gets tremendous use of both his knuckles and his gun, he is after all a military officer with a record of having got shot down a number of times, but he doesn't make things easier for himself by constantly blustering in, picking quarrels, insulting everyone and making himself impossible all over society by a clinical lack of any sense of humour - only once there is a faint shadow of a smile on his lips. Walter Slezak has every right to constantly call him a stupid fool, and every time he is called by that name he adds to deserving it. But it is a very intriguing story, as usual in Edward Dmytryk's films, which makes it worth watching with interest, as you are constantly more bewildered by the confusing intrigue getting all the time more knotted up, and not until the very end it all makes sense after all. The intrigue is thickening until it bursts open with a vengeance, and then at last you can even forgive Dick Powell his irrational clumsiness. He was only married for twenty days, his wife wasn't even beautiful, and it's difficult to understand why he would commit himself with immense pains to a wild goose chase across the world just to get a revenge, which only is explained by his incorrigibly hard and impossible character. It would be interesting to see the final bill for his France-Argentina berserk trip. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037615/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Strange Illusion (1945) (8/10) A youth has nightmares which prove true, for which he is hospitalized. 1 March 2018

This is actually a psychological thriller and would have made great stuff for Hitchcock. Edgar Ulmer usually filmed terrific subjects and stories, but his direction was never enough for them. Thus many of his films appear incomplete and rather inept, while there is never anything wrong with their plots. Here a youth in his most susceptible age has bad dreams about his father, how his father's death is arranged and how his mother then is laid claims on by a stranger, who also seduces his sister. It's just a dream, but eventually everything in it proves to come true. He is hospitalized by a psychiatrist who has something to hide, and so the intrigue keeps developing in constantly more hazardous turnings. It's not very well acted nor directed, but for the intrigue as such it is worth watching all the same. It's great themes like this that really deserve remakes with better actors and more accomplished and elaborate direction.

116


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038126/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 And Then There Were None (1945) (9/10) A party of guests are murdered one by one until (almost) only the murderer is left. 1 March 2018

This is one of Agatha Christie's most clever intrigues, and it has been filmed any number of times in very different versions. RenĂŠ Clair's version, however, is certainly one of the most outstanding. A party of prominent guests are invited out to an island to pass the weekend in a lush and peaceful environment, but none of them has ever met their host, whose identity grows constantly more suspect and mysterious as the intrigue develops and one after the other gets killed including the kitchen personnel. Roland Young is one of the party and an astute detective, but gradually he appears as the dumbest of them all, as they all keep spying on each other and suspecting each other. There is some diabolical humour in all this, RenĂŠ Clair never denies his wit and innovative qualities, but it isn't exactly funny like "The Ghost Goes West". Nevertheleess, it keeps you fettered to the last surprising moment, and no matter how impossible and improbable the intrigue may seem, it's all logical and ultimately makes sense . Of course, someone had to survive to be able to tell the tale. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037515/ The Valley of Decision (1945) (10/10) Greer Garson at the mercy of Gregory Peck and his awful accountable family 12 March 2018

Marcia Davenport's novel quickly became a classic, and it was almost impossible not to make a film classic as well out of such a story with such characters. It is one of Greer Garson's very best impersonations, and she made many wonderful characters, but her rendering of the Irish lass in America with her worrisome family (with Lionel Barrymore imposing as a crippled and hopelessly embittered father) is endearing to unforgettability. Gladys Cooper as the mother of the Scotts cuts another interesting and lasting character, and Gregory Peck has never been more gentlemanlike. The main drama and heart of the film and story is the controversies related to the industry. It's a heavy industry of steel and the times of the first unions, strikes and demonstrations in the 1870s, and there is a conflict growing to tragic proportions, which is the height of the dramatic saga. It's mainly a women's novel though about women and their power struggle, while the men are just there for sustaining necessity. Greer Garson and Cladys Cooper

117


carry the film and their families on their shoulders, weathering the crises with stubborn decisiveness, and nothing can stop their will from getting through, since they fight against the severest odds and have most to lose and to sacrifice. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038213/ Fallen Angel (1945) (10/10) Dana Andrews caught between two ladies, an angel and a hooker. 26 April 2018

After "Laura" Otto Preminger took a step down to a slightly more shabby intrigue and environment. The joint in which Dana Andrews lands after his fall is not a place anyone would visit willingly and especially not for the sake of Linda Darnell. Her being the main attraction there for which all men become regulars is the worst possible recommendation for a common road house. Dana Andrews is the fallen angel who is thrown off a bus and lands in this miserable place, where he meets a sinister veteran police officer with some scarred experience, a pathetic owner and Linda Darnell. She hooks him, he goes mad about her and promises her anything, even venturing on criminal plans, finding two sisters with some fortune he could use, one of them being Alice Faye, a church organist, who falls in love with him to her sister's grest dismay. Her alarm is justified indeed. There it starts. It's a great story and perfect intrigue expertly handled, but what then is wrong here? There is only one flaw: Linda Darnell. She is terribly miscast and least of all convincing. How could any man fall for such a mean presumptuos creature, a shallow hooker without soul, and yet everyone seems to do just that, hopelessly and desperately. Dana Andrews' doubtful character is the main thriller of the film. No one knows anything about him, the audience least of all, he is a loser and maybe a criminal one, you can suspect all the worst about him, as Alice Faye's non-nonsense sister has every reason to do, and only gradually his real character comes into light, mainly in the great hotel scene in San Francisco, an even shabbier place than the road joint, clearly pointing out the direction of Hitchcock's "Vertigo" 14 years later. That long scene makes the film a masterpiece in spite of Linda Darnell. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037691/ Conflict (1945) (9/10) How an unhappy marriage results in even worse unhappiness when you try to do something about it.

118


8 July 2018

This is an intriguing psychological drama with apparent supernatural elements which however prove perfectly natural. The spider in the web is Sydney Greenstreet, Humphrey Bogart being entirely at his mercy without even being aware of it. The tangle gets constantly further messed up, until finally everything is settled because of an innocent rose. Alexis Smith is here in one of her early roles, always stylish and making an absolutely convincing character, although her character here is not very interesting. Humphrey is the greatest actor here and steals the show entirely, while the audience, like himself, gets constantly more confused. We never see the murder being committed, no dead body is ever shown, so it's only natural to assume that the victim somehow got away. Well, if that really was the case, the target certainly got away with a vengeance. Least suspicious of all you must be of the kind old doctor Sydney Greenstreet, while he actually is the one who Humphrey should suspicious of. A great intelligent crime plot, actually originated by Robert Siodmak. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037611/ The Lost Weekend (1945) (10/10) Probably the best and truest film of alcoholism 24 July 2018

This could be Billy Wilder's best picture, while it definitely is Ray Milland's best performance, which earned him a well-deserved Oscar. Miklos Rosza's overwhelming music enhances the drama in its bottomlessly pathetic hopelessness, going constantly from bad to worse with occasional glimpses of some hope on the way which immediately are getting drowned in the bottle. It's a miracle that Jane Wyman at all puts up with such a jerk, most girls would not or would perish in the effort, but here the story succeeds in reaching a conciliatory conclusion after all, so that hope after all conquers reality. There are a number of memorable scenes and supporting characters, like above all Frank Faylen as 'Bim' Nolan at the hospital, a veteran all too experienced, and the landlady Mary Young, but above all Howard de Silva as the bartender, who just can't help it but must assist Raymond on his way down, although he knows all too well how wrong it is, but even he eventually comes at the rescue. The sad thing is, that the writer, Charles R. Jackson, who wrote this novel about himself, utlimately dfid not make it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037884/ The Great Flamarion (1945) (10/10)

119


Anthony Mann directs Erich von Stroheim 26 July 2018

Stroheim was the older, more experienced and perhaps greater director of the two, while Mann was still learning. There were clashes between them during the shooting, and Mann was wise enough to duck: it's definitely von Stroheim's film, as he succeeds in realizing his perhaps most poignant and shattering film character. He is a total perfectionist doing his job perfectly, when a false woman starts using him for her purposes. He is deluded, but as the perfectionist he is he refuses to realize he has committed a mistake and insists on believing in her the whole way, until everything is lost. At the same time it is almost autobiographical. He was himself on top in the 20s as one of Hollywood's greatest directors, and then had a long and great fall, just like Orson Welles. He was never allowed to direct again after the total failure of "Queen Kelly" with Gloria Swanson, left unfinished, and all he could do any more was some acting. This is one of the three films in which he still succeeds in taking over the whole film, the other two being Renoir's "La grande illusion" (1937) and "Sunset Boulevard", putting Gloria Swanson back on the screen with a vengeance. The story of the perfect shot is Vicki Baum's, and the story as unfolded by Anthony Mann is shattering and in a way a parallel to Josef von Sternberg's "The Blue Angel", describing the same kind of long great fall from established greatness to pitiable misery by delusive love. Although short and almost condensed (only 75 minutes), it's a great film deserving only the highest possible applause. Just the introductory scene, as the camera slowly approaches the acting on the stage closing up on a ridiculous clown, when the long shot suddenly is shattered by an unexpected event, is even up to Hichcock's standard. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037749/?ref_=ur_urv The Power of the Whistler (1945) (8/10) At a loss for having lost his memory, it gets worse when he regains it. 29 July 2018

This should have been an ideal part for Claude Rains, who could have added a great deal of suavity and other nuances to the weird character of William Everest, who as it is raises your suspicion from the beginning, while poor Janis Carter in spite of all her beauty and charm seems to be totally blind to the warnings that should be alarming enough to anyone, like the weird man causing the deaths of three pets Janis seems to take it for granted that it must be accidents, but three? Just coincidence? Come on. But the story is good, and the intrigue is fascinating. She gets the idea from her cards that a man standing by the bar only has 24 hours left to live, wherefore she will do anything to prevent this and save his life. It actually proves to be at peril, since he 120


just had a car accident and has lost his memory, so the least thing she could do is to help him regain his memory and find out who he is. It proves however that losing his memory was the best thing that could have happened to him, and as he gets it back not even Janis can save him any more. As it is, an interesting intrigue gets undeveloped and lost in superficiality, while a Claude Rains would have been needed to bring the film to maturity. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037997/ Scarlet Street (1945) (10/10) Edward G. Robinson at the mercy of Joan Bennett, her pimp Dan Dureya and trhe worst possible wife. 29 July 2018

I have seem this film three times now, but every time it surprised me with creating a deeper impression. It is not as popular and acclaimed as the previous "Woman in the Window" with the same cast, to which it is a kind of a sequel, but it is deeper and infinitely more touching and sad. It is not one of the most depressing films ever, but it is definitely one of the saddest. A poor clerk working as a well credited cashier for 25 years has painting for a hobby and is married to a nightmare of a wife who bullies him and threatens to throw out his paintings, meets a lovely young woman (Joan Bennett) who sees an opportunity and actually offers him a way out from his trapped life, but she will only use him for the means of his boyfriend, the abominable Dan Dureya, and the unanswerable question in this film is: How can she stand him? How is it possible for her to love him and stick to him? The film begins with his brutally beating her up. And how can Edward G. Robinson fall for such a woman, with such a friend, whom he at least can't sympathise with? But the story follows its own relentless logics, and he has to follow his course where destiny leads him. Robinson makes perhaps his most shockingly gripping part ever, and the story is one of the very darkest of all noirs, worthy of a Zola or even Dostoyevsky in its abyss of no return. You will never recover from this film, and yet you know you will return to see it again... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038057/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Blood on the Sun (1945) (10/10) James Cagney trying to get the hang of Japan with his fists 15 August 2018

There have been quite a few and commendable American efforts to understand Japan and its mentality since the war, and this was one of the first and best. The development of the intrigue takes on very unexpected complications, and not only 121


James Cagney is in for quite a few surprises. Sylvia Sidney makes a very credible Chinese ingredient, but the most impressing characters are John Emery as the stately baron Tanaka and the old prince, who foresees the destiny of Japan at the mercy of the baron's ambitions. This is a Japanese tragedy masked behind the American smokescreens of love, action and drinking, although the journalist's story is an interesting example indeed of spectacular and undaunted journalism at its best. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037547/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Great Day (1945) (10/10) "Sometimes it's braver to live than to die." 30 October 2018

This is one of those small films about small matters looming to greatness. It's just a small village making a big fuss about a great occasion falling suddenly upon them, making them all contribute a last great war effort to welcome - Eleanor Roosevelt. Of course, she never appears in the film, because the film is about all those small common very human people who are looking foraward to receiving her by making the best possible impression. This is not so easy, as there are tragedies on the way, there is a love affair that turns out in odd ways, there is jealousy among the ladies, and there is Eric Portman in perhaps his finest act. He was always made to play impossible roles, often murderers and at least very unsympathetic characters, and this is no exception, but more overwhelmingly human in its pathetic realism. He has memories of the first world war and has been doing nothing since but living on those memories with a wife and daughter always being obliged to take care of him when he falls, but he makes this impossible role just perfectly, and you will cry for him if not for all the gorgeous community of mostly ladies just making an effort. William Alwyn's music crowns it all with an addition of Hubert Parry in the end to suit Eleanor Roosevelt together with the Star Spangled Banner. Also the cinematography is a marvel with its many close-ups, really closing in on people with their innermost feelings, like Eric Portman in the beginning with his daughter watching birds; but perhaps the greatest impression of all is made by the wonderful dialogue all the way -- it's a vast river of brilliant conversation, nothing remarakable, nothing eloquent, but flowing incessantly of just human nature. In brief, this is one of those very small films that tower above many great ones. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037748/?ref_=ur_urv The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) (10/10) The trouble with Harry’s sisters 13 November 2018

122


An ingenious plot masterly handled by Robert Siodmak, tells the troublesome story of the dĂ­lemma of a very small town honest and faithful trudger in the design business composing rosebuds for wallpapers, who lives alone with his two quarrelling sisters, one worse than the other, in a psychological drama closing in on Fritz Lang's "Woman in the Window" in a scary intrigue leading to a bottomless sea of troubles and worries for the poor George Sanders, who really means no harm and couldn't do any, but anyway seems to cause a lot of more troublesome complications than he ever could dream of. Geraldine Fitzgerald is actuially the leading actor in this drama making the role of her life in her metamorphosis from the most affectionate thinkable good sister, although frail and hypochondriac, to a sharp and ice cold cynic. Ella Raines is her counterpart who saves the situation, or at least tries to save it, but even she is manipulated away by the sisterly intrigues. It's a wonderful film in its expertly poignant psychology, I saw it some years ago but found it again as a completely new film even more efficient the second time. George Sanders for once is not excelling but rather the contrary but is even better for that. There are some wonderful club scenes as well with the other fogeys of the small town performing together. This is a criminal idyll with a glorious twist. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038123/ The Unseen (1945) (8/10) Spooky lights in a deserted house raises suspicions 13 November 2018

Joel McCrea needs a new governess since they all don't want to stay very long, like also the cooks and the maids, since there are strange goings-on in the house next door, which is all closed up and derelict after a murder committed there many years ago; but Joel's two children, who the governess is for, have some interest in the fishy business, the boy even getting rewarded for letting an unknown stranger into the house at night. Gail Russell as the poor young innocent governess doesn't quite know which way to turn, as she gets more and more involved in a mysterious unpleasantness, but Herbert Marshall is a doctor a few houses away who seems to be a safe terminal; while the sour Joel McCrea is constantly out of his humour, stingy and difficult. The governess with the two children gives you immediate associations to Henry James "The Turn of the Screw", but this is actually no ghost story and nothing like that. It's a logical criminal mystery, which could have been made more of, but as it is it's at least good and interesting entertainment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038205/ I Know Where I’m Going (1945) (10/10) Wendy Hiller thinks she knows where she is going

123


3 January 2019

I have seen this film three times, and every time it has been more intriguing. Although it's a simple story, there are complications. The only easy part is Roger Livesey, he is always the same, reliable, safe and 101% honest, as always. Wendy Hiller's part is much more complicated, as she plays a person who can't accept complications in her way and for that very reason get them piled up beyond control. Her acting is absolutely marvellous by the character change she is going through, her faltering self-confidence and increasing uncertainty given away only by small nuances, - but the most interesting character is none of these. It's Pamela Brown as Catriona, a highland island natural lass intimate with nature and knowing all about human nature, seeing through Wendy Hiller like an empty bottle. If Wendy Hiller thinks she knows where she is going, Pamela Brown at once sees that she is not going there. There are some mysteries also to this film. We learn that Catriona is married Mrs Potts, she is even called Mrs Potts by Roger Livesey, but we never get to know anything about Mr Potts. Another mysterious person is Sir Robert Bellinger. He is actually the most important character to the whole ingtrigue, but he baffles the audience by never showing up. Another such mystery is the island of Kiloran. That's where Wendy Hiller is going throughout the film with the most intrepid determination possible, but... There is always a stroke of genius marking the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and here perhaps more markedly than ever, although none of the characters is very exceptional or any genius. It's about ordinary people, but the intrigue and cinematography is so advanced in its intricate and masterful composition, that the result is a film that you truly could see any number of times - and even need to see again after every few years, especially since you each time will discover new wonders about it... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037800/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Southerner (1945) (9/10) Jean Renoir making himself at home in the deep south among common farmers 15 July 2019

This is one of Jean Renoir's American films, and although not on the level with his earlier French films, it's still a Renoir film and well worth seeing. It's about the hardship of farming life in the deep south, the characters are all very rustic and basic, the story is typical of hillbillies and very common people, but they are honest, and there are some terrific scenes involved, especially the great bar fight and the wedding party, which triggers the culminating crisis. It's a well performed drama, although some,people behave very badly, there is no real evil anywhere in them, and you 124


learn to embrace them all with the same generous heartiness as Renoir shows them, and you can see he enjoyed making this film. It's not one his best, it's rather a marginal one, but nevertheless it's a gem that will stand up forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038107/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Story of G.I.Joe (1945) (9/10) The long march from Africa to Rome in interminable rains and muds and tragedies 11 October 2019

This is another super-realistic war account of the ordeals on the way of the Americans from Tunisia up through Italy to Rome with Monte Cassino as the main problem on the way. It's a story brilliantly told with realism hitting new top marks all the way, and Robert Mitchum makes a lasting impression in one of his first major parts. The Monte Cassino was a monastery founded by St.Benedict in the very early middle ages, in fact the first major monastery in Italy and maybe its most important, built on top of a very strategic hill, which the Germans transformed into a fortress. There was no way for the allies to get around this fortress, from respect of the monastery, but finally general Eisenhower ordered the monastery to be bombed. Even after it had been reduced to rubble, the Germans fought on, hiding in the ruins and made it the hardest nut for the Americans to crack in Italy. They could only do it by utterly destroying the greatest and most important monastery in Italy. That's the main argument of the film, but there are many other stories on the way, like the soldier with the phonograph which he keeps stubbornly working on to finally achieve the miracle of hearing his baby's voice on a record, and many other tragic fates as well. Together with his later "Battleground" this must be perhaps the best and most important American film of the second world war in Europe. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038120/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Leave Her to Heaven (1945) (9/10) A great noir in splendid colours: the tragedy of seeing through a woman too late 22 November 2019

Gene Tierney made this film shortly after "Laura" as a kind of antithesis in a portrait of premeditated mental cruelty which is outstanding in its horribly conscientious and cleverly methodic thinking. She knows what she is doing, and that's the horror of it. There is actually nothing wrong with her, she is just made that way and has an incurable tendency to love too much, which destroys the lives of all her closest of kin, but the one thing wrong about her is that she has no detachment. As a spoilt child she has no self-criticism at all as she always has been used to having her own 125


will get through. The moment she sets eyes on Cornel Wilde and observes the remarkable likeness between him and her idolized father, his fate is sealed, and he will never become aware of it until it is too late. Jeanne Crain as her closest female of kin is less beautiful but more rational and sees her through, which none of the men do. It's a tragedy of monumental dimensions as it is so creepingly slow in its gradually towering construction, and how could anyone have warned the victims, as she moves so slowly and carefully to be certain to avoid detection of her mind? It's a brilliantly constructed story in its analysis of extreme cleverness in a woman's mind which is ultimately grotesquely abused by her own inability to get any distance to herself. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037865/ The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (9/10) How war veterans never get rid of their wars but have to live with them anyway. 19 March 2015

The main triumph of this film which makes it quite exceptional and unique of its kind is the performance of Harold Russell as Homer Parrish, who has lost both his hands in the war, which invalidity he shares with Harold Russell. It's a story and film about war veterans and without doubt the best of its kind for its humanity and extremely sustained restraint all the way in the exposure of very sensitive and personal affairs and feelings of the most delicate kind. All the actors are outstanding in their characterizations, Fredric March as the sergeant and former banker who can't quite control himself or his bottle, Harold Russell in the performance of his life, (the pajama scene must melt all hearts,) the only time ever an actor received two Oscars for the same part and well deserved, Dana Andrews as the noble war hero who is humiliated by his wife (Virginia Mayo perfectly abominable) but has the very good luck of finding the irresistible Teresa Wright instead and at her most charming, who is so much the better, and Myrna Loy finally as the sage and stable mother. The music is perfectly fit to illustrate the moods and the tensions, with Hoagy Carmichael crowning it, while the mastership of the direction of William Wyler in his slow and careful but very well thought out and intentional direction to bring out all the best and the truth of the story from his actors probably takes the prize. The film has a number of unforgettable scenes of singular eloquence, but I think my favorite would be Dana Andrews' revisit of his old pilot job in the junkyard, one of William Wyler's most impressive scenes, and there is an important forewarning of it in the beginning. This is a veteran film for all times which is inexhaustible in its humanity and which all people of all generations have something to learn from to improve themselves with. Finally I have never seen so many reviews for a film here, but a film like this just can't have a review too many. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036868/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Dragonwyck (1946)

126


(9/10) Gothic melodrama from the 1840s with thickening intrigue all the way 11 July 2017

Joe Mankiewicz's first film as a director is like all his subsequent ones a paragon of clarity and thoroughness, attaching much attention to every detail, while at the same time the actors are generously given free room to reign. Consequently in all his films, all actors appear outstanding, especially in his early ones. His next film was even darker than this one, maybe his deepest dive into the noir genre, "Somewhere in the Night" about the mystery of a lost identity and even more intriguing than this one here Vincent Price completely dominates the drama by you in suspense as you never can know or even guess what he is up to. He appears as the perfect gentleman, and yet you must suspect that he has terrible secrets to hide, which don't become evident until the very end, as he masks them so well. Gene Tierney is equally good, and they match each other perfectly - just previously they had been together in Otto Preminger's priceless "Laura". The other actors are good as well, especially Walter Huston as the terrible but honest father, while you must observe the young Jessica Tandy entering the scene after Gene Tierney has been married. You can't recognize her, but her performance as a cripple is quite remarkable. Alfred Newman's music is equally perfect, never too intrusive but properly enhancing the Gothic atmosphere whenever it is stressed. Only Glenn Langan as the doctor is a bit simplistic, while the tenants are impressive in every scene. A special tribute to the always admirable Anne Revere as Gene Tierney's wise and hardy mother. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038492/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Bedelia (1946) (8/10) The problematic dissection of a mysterious lady with dark secrets of the past A brilliant story with a fast and pregnant dialogue all along, presents the fascinating case of a double-faced woman, the other face of which is well hidden behind a mask of superb charm and beauty – it's impossible to believe anything else but the best of her; but a nosy insurance investigator, not at all sympathetic but rather callous and rude in his constant meddling into the business of a happily and recently married couple, finds out more and more unpleasant things no one really wants to know, not even himself. Alas, it all leads to more unpleasantness. Margaret Lockwood is as usual quite reliable and convincing in not a too glamorous part, Ian Hunter makes the perfect husband and reacts as anyone would in such an awkward situation, intrepidly handling the crisis with an admirable effort at controlling himself, while Barry K. Barnes carries through the difficult task of making a graceless character acceptable for his uneasy plight. Anne Crawford is a delightful

127


surprise as another beauty, who after all remains when all the lights are gone. This is not clearly expressed in the film, but it should not be forgotten. To this comes the interesting detail of the black pearl, which somehow symbolizes the whole story. She wants to get rid of it but refuses to sell it for a fortune, when asked for it she denies she still has it, and then it returns to bring about her doom. It should be noted that the author also was guilty of "Laura". It's not a great or ambitious film but well above the average of so many other similar secondary melodramas. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038342/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2 Carnival (1946) (10/10) Sally Gray getting caught by too many men and one too many Everything is perfect about this film, although it is a shocker. Naturally you get worried as you get involved in the fates and faulty characters of all these personages, where everyone has a crux of her own, while only Jennie Pearl seems to come clear of everything, and yet it is impossible to foresee how events will turn out, as unexpected things happen all the time, twisting their fates around and taking you unpleasantly for more than one surprise ride. The story is Compton Mackenzie's, who also gave us "Whisky Galore" among other priceless classics, a masterful story-teller and brilliant wit especially for dialogue, which permeates this whole film, while also the director worked on the script with even Peter Ustinov. Just for the dialogue, the film is worth watching at least twice. The actors are all brilliant, from the jovial and incorrigible Stanley Holloway as the father, Catherine Lacey as his self-torturing wife, Sally Gray herself as something between Glenda Jackson and Katharine Hepburn and a marvellous dancer as well, this film is mainly about ballet and art and the problems artists of these crafts are facing, and Michael Wilding is overwhelmingly charming as usual. To this comes the astonishing and towering character that Bernard Miles is creating, who almost takes over the entire film. The grand finale in Cornwall crowns the masterpiece. This was apparently Stanley Haynes' only film, while his main contributions was as a producer. It's very difficult to say what is best about this film, since everything is so perfect, especially the sparkling dialogue and brilliant interplay of the actors, there are many adorable scenes, and the music adds to it, actually composed (like the ballets) exclusively for this film, which therefore could be regarded as something of a foreplay to the emerging of the greatest of all ballet films, "The Red Shoes" two years later. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038398/?ref_=nv_sr_1

128


Beware of Pity (1946) (9/10) Out of pity an officer gets involuntarily involved with a suicidal cripple with consequences. This was Stefan Zweig's one and only novel, who was a great psychologist and in this novel approached the realms of Dostoievsky's keen insight into the complexities of the human mind and dealing with it with a very delicate touch. The film has succeeded in embracing the terrible predicament of the officer, who sees no way out when a suicidal cripple has given him her unconditional love which he can't answer. It's a universally worrying situation for everyone involved, including her entire family, her doctor and his wife and his own regimental fellow officers, and the real title of the novel is "The Heart's Unrest", driving the unreleased passion of the heart to the brinks of hysteria and desperation, like also in his short story "Verwirrung der Gefßhle" ("The Confusion of Feelings"). Lilli Palmer dominates the film giving one of her best performances of extreme charm and sensitivity, Cedric Hardwicke is perfect as the troubled doctor who is also stuck in the dilemma of not being able to deliver the truth, he is in a similar situation himself stuck for life as married to a blind wife (Gladys Cooper, always excellent), playing a vital part in the drama, while Albert Lieven is just as helpless in his role as he should be. It is beautifully filmed, Cecil Beaton having created the exquisite costumes, the environment is like the beauteous dream of a fairy tale but real, and reality is all too palpable as the first world war breaks out – Archduke Franz Ferdinand has a small part in the film. On the whole, it's a film well worth seeing for its challenging task of realizing a very worrying and troublesome story of a predicament that could happen to anyone. It's interesting to compare this Stefan Zweig film with the other one of almost the same year, Max Ophuls' "Letter from an Unknown Woman", on one of his short stories. In that film very much is altered, the writer in the story is a pianist in the film, and the events of the story are much less tragic and poignant than in the film. In "Beware of Pity" very little is altered, it sticks to the book with carefulness, and still Max Ophuls' film is so much more interesting and gripping. Curiously enough, just by making so great changes to the story, he makes Stefan Zweig more alive and convincing, than the almost pedantic "Beware of Pity" being more true to the letter. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038354/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Tomorrow is Forever (1946) (10/10) Orson Welles completely convincing as a heart-broken war invalid 7 July 2017

This is one of the most sensitive films ever made, Orson Welles giving perhaps his life's most interesting performance as a war invalid surviving against his will. It involves both the world wars, the first one making him an invalid and the second one sending his son to the war. Claudette Colbert is the mother who also makes one of her greatest performances, but it's the story that carries the greatest weight. George Brent as the second husband is perfectly alright as such as well, but his

129


character lands in the shadow of the drama – he really doesn't understand much of it but does what he has to do as an honest man. Orson Welles is gutted in the first world war with a face that has to be remade, which is why he doesn't want to survive as he can't show himself to his newly wedded wife, who protested wildly against his going to war. His doctor persuades him to give life an chance nonetheless, and twenty years later Orson returns as an Austrian fugitive to his home town Baltimore and finds his widow well and prosperous with a new family, but her son (and his) wants to go to war. It's a terrific drama, the whole suspense resting on how Claudette Colbert will recognize her former husband or not, and whether he will acknowledge his former identity or not. The only flaw of the case is the ending. It is kind of patched up and is the only detail not convincing, like an ordinary constructed Hollywood 'happy ending' escape from complications. Actually the story begins as the Junior goes to war - whatever will be HIS war experience? Orson is whisked away and has no more say in the matter. Anyway, it's one of the most gripping films ever made, and Orson is more unforgettable than ever. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039041/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Deception (1946) (10/10) Music, at what price? Any price? This is a film like made for much afterthought for musicians. About the music you may think what you want, but I imagine most people, and even musicians, would find Claude Rains' (Alexander Hollenius', Erich Korngold's) concerto a bit thick or difficult or heavy or pretentious or whatever, while all the other music (Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn) is more like music, that is like music should be, but never mind, music is the theme, and it doesn't matter much what concerto is performed, as long as it is massive enough as a concerto underscoring the climax of the melodrama. Paul Henreid is convincing enough as an honest musician, while Claude Rains already from the beginning gives some signals of alarm – something is wrong about this musician, he is breaking up, something has gone awry with him, which proves to be the case; but he is the star of the film outshining even Bette Davis, who as his protegÊe also gives some hints of having been damaged before the curtain opens, and she has, by him, and he does his best to continue doing so by preparing her for her ruin by constant volleys of mental cruelty, against which even Bette Davis is defenseless. This is a story about music, what it is all about, how it demands honesty more than just professional skill, and how dangerous it is to let personal relationships affect and interfere with the musical honesty. Claude Rains as the composer/conductor is the victim of this dilemma, Bette Davis accentuates it, while Paul Henreid, as the very honest musician he portrays, is the only one who gets through it with his wings still on. It's an excellent lesson in musical morality and how all important this is. All three are at their best, but Claude Rains definitely steals the show by his monumental tragedy, going down with flying colours.

130


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038461/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Somewhere in the Night (1946) (9/10) The difficult way out of total darkness through a nightmare of adversities and rough trials 18 March 2017

A soldier, all bandaged up, wakes up in an army hospital in the war and remembers nothing. All he can do is to soliloquize. His wallet has been miraculously saved from the grenade devastation that all but killed him, which contains a weird letter from someone condemning him with all her hate. That's the only cue he has to his life and identity. It's a difficult beginning to start with, but the soldier is returned to life and to Los Angeles, where he starts digging for his past, groping his way in the total darkness of a mystery that only grows worse for each new clue that turns up. A singing lady takes care of him and bandages him up when he gets beaten up by hoodlums for no known reason, and there are more and more people like that, trying to get what he knows and the more eagerly so for the fact that he knows nothing. All amnesia films are usually extremely interesting and good, "Random Harvest" is the best example of all, but here the hero has no great past and has never been in any position but is just a common man who had the misfortune to get mixed up with accidents and intrigues beyond his control. At first you feel disappointed with the film, as nothing seems to resolve the mysteries but only to complicate them. Like the man himself you err in a labyrinth of grotesque absurdity, and every helper seems only to make it worse – until he meets an old man in a mental hospital, and then you have already passed way beyond half of the film. What follows though is completely rewarding. The miracle happens that everything in this inextricable mystery actually is resolved and explained, and an impossible abyss of illogical absurdity turns the other way around in a marvel of a sudden revelation, which definitely saves the film and turns it from disaster to glory. All Joe Mankiewicz's films display a high class stylishness of almost an aristocratic touch, which makes them all enjoyable, and this weird odyssey through a nightmare of disorientation is no exception. The actors are also convincing enough, while Richard Conte is the only real character player. This was Mankiewicz's second film on his way up to supreme stardom of directors, and he still had 20 more years to go of reliably outstanding films. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038965/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Specter of the Rose (1946) (9/10)

131


A dancer is hospitalized after the tragic death of his wife and recalled to the stage in a second chance by a second wife. 4 January 2015

This was one of the most unforgettable films I saw as a child, I never had the opportunity to see it again until 50 years later, and it remains a lasting impact. Its weaknesses are admitted, it's more like a play than a film, (although some cinematic tricks occur as positive surprises,) the acting is not very brilliant but rather stiff, the camera moves as little as possible; but against all these foibles you have the overwhelmingly beautiful and brilliant story and play, the virtuoso dialogue all the way, and above all, the music, the dances and the poetry. Ben Hecht clearly conceived the idea inspired by the fate of Nijinsky, who was disabled as a schizophrenic from the first world war till after the second, and the real theme of the film is the freedom of artistic madness at its most exuberant and creative. Michael Chekhov sometimes tediously dominates long scenes of the film as the sore tried impresario of infinite tribulations who nevertheless is wholeheartedly sympathetic but outflanked by the indomitable realist of long and hard experience, Judith Anderson, who is magnificent in every scene; while the focus of the drama is the dancer's genius and the difficulty of handling it, or rather, subjecting it to discipline, because it's so totally beyond control that it really can't be disciplined, only at best directed in a creative vein. Powell-Pressburger's classic "The Red Shoes" a few years later would have been unthinkable without this for a road mark, and it must remain for always one of the most important and innovative ballet films ever made, especially for its delicate treatment of the difficult subject of genius. The film gains by seeing it a number of times, at first sight its depth and ingenuity is not obvious, but as you sink into it you never reach the bottom. This is an ingenious film about the trickiness of genius. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038973/?ref_=nv_sr_5 Shock (1946) (9/10) Unwilling witness to a murder gets shock treatment by the murderer who is her doctor 13 July 2017

Great thriller in the small size, but the acting lifts it out of the B level, especially Anabel Shaw as the poor innocent wife who instead of receiving her expected husband back from the war ends up a victim herself in a hospital. Vincent Price makes another of his very dubious vacillating monster characters who hesitates to take the step fully out into an irrevocable blatantly criminal evil. The end comes as a most welcome surprise - of all things, you would never have expected THAT for a conclusion, but there are some very tense nail-biting moments of unbearable suspense before the explosion of the balloon. The husband Frank Latimore also plays a decent part sharing the victim's trauma and ultimately saving her of course, and is persistent in reminding you of Frank Sinatra – without singing. The music, though, is perfect and adds to both the atmosphere and the suspense. It's a perfect thriller if you don't want it to go on for too long.

132


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038937/?ref_=nv_sr_1 13 Rue Madeleine (1946) (10/10) James Cagney trains spies, sends them out to war and is compelled to join them. Another great espionage film, like his previous "House on 92nd Street" basically documentary, but gradually it evolves into high drama of human relationships and cruel intrigues. James Cagney is perfect as leader of the school of agents and spies, and although only an instructor from the beginning, he eventually will get good use of his hard fists. The final scene is tremendous for its effect and implication, a last laugh indeed. Richard Crenna is also very credible as his counterpart, and Henry Hathaway succeeds in getting his face in a final expression as well. I don't know how true the story is, but it could very well be true all the way, just like "House on the 92nd Street" was, and even more, the subsequent one, "Call Northside 777" with James Stewart, which is the best of the three. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038279/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Two Years Before the Mast (1946) (10/10) A totally different story from the classic novel, but better. 1 July 2017

The novel is all realism with no real plot and drama of an almost documentary character, while the film is more like the stuff of Jack London, Wolf-Larsen, Nordhoff & Hall and Kipling's "Captains Courageous". The most important feature of the book is also in the film, though: the humanity on board in spite of all the hard knuckles of inhumanity. Richard H. Dana is in the film on board the ship all the same, and his part is no less interesting than in the book but taken from another angle, which makes his part even more interesting. He is the only one to enlist on the "Pilgrim" voluntarily while many of the others are shanghaied, and he volunteers for a very specific purpose. Howard Da Silva plays expertly the part of the cruelly insensitive captain provoking a mutiny at any cost, it would seem, sacrificing sailors' lives for the sake of sailing records, William Bendix is always fascinating and raises every film some points, but here he is the brutal first mate with a double edge. Brian Donleavy is Dana and perfect together with Alan Ladd, who makes the main character and a very interesting one. To all this comes Victor Young's irresistible music, always golden, and the splendid thorough hands-on realism all the way, with fascinating insights into life on board. Barry Fitzgerald is the cook, directly out of "Wolf-Larsen" it would

133


seem, and supplies a portion humour and lyricism. There are even some ladies, more prominent and attractive than in the book. The scurvy problem, which is not in the book, brings the drama. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039056/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Searching Wind (1946) (10/10) A diplomat's dilemma, caught between conscience issues and reality necessities, and between two women This is an extremely fascinating discussion of vital issues of conscience and demands of reality. Robert Young as a trusted diplomat is faced with a reality he cannot handle as everything in it goes against him, but he cannot do anything about it. He marries the wrong wife while he continues to love the girl he never can get, who handles reality more straightly as a journalist seeing and writing the truth. Difficult issues of journalism also enter the discussion, as the diplomat's father-in-law (Dudley Digges, the best character in the context) runs the paper she is working for - and abandons it at the rise of fascism in Europe, refusing to take any further responsibility for reality. Also the form of the film is a fascinating composition, starting at present time (1946) as all the protagonists gather for the first time in many years to enter a serious discussion none of them really desires, which brings them back to another day when they all were together in Rome as Mussolini took over power... and then comes an hour of flashbacks through all the traumatic convulsions of Europe between the two world wars, from the rise of German Nazism to the Spanish civil war and the controversial peace treaty of Munich. I loved this film all through from the first moment to the last, the dialogue is replenished with intensive importance all the way, the characters couldn't have been acted better, there is no flaw anywhere, it flows organically on like taken directly out of reality, it's intelligent and important and well up to the same level as William Dieterle's other excellent films at the time. And through it all flows also Victor Young's gorgeous music, to make it even better... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038915/?ref_=ur_urv I’ve Always Loved You (1946) (9/10) Frank Borzage going wild in experimenting with musical psychology 8 Februay 2018

It's a very good story, like an interesting experiment in musical psychology, delving into and trying to reach the very essence and nature of the extreme sensitivity of the musical sense, but the acting is a bit stiff, and the story, although tremendously good

134


and interesting, doesn't quite come alive. Catherine McLeod saves the picture, her acting is wholly satisfactory and convincing all the way, but the others are at times a bit too wooden. Philip Dorn is more abominable than not as the utterly rude and indecent conductor who thinks he can go at any length in insulting Catherine in the name of music, and no wonder she abandons music on conditions like that. There are many details in this artificial set-up that just don't work, they are neither credible nor natural, but there is nothing wrong with the idea. Although Frank Borzage made several films of music, and they are all good, it's over-evident that he was no musician himself. On the whole, forget the flaws in the acting, the direction and the lack of musical realism but please follow and study the idea and the story, because the thoughts behind all this were humanly and psychologically very interesting indeed. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038629/ The Captive Heart (1946) (10/10) Michael Redgrave among other traumatized and penalized prisoners of war after Dunkirk 16 February 2018

This is a deeply human and almost documentary account of the life of prisoners after Dunkirk who are not released until towards the end of the war, Michael Redgrave as the leading actor being far from alone among suffering fellow soldiers, as there is a number of tales told of dire destiny in this concentration camp of arduous fates. Redgrave is of course the most interesting case, a Czech escaped from the Germans and sought by Gestapo, hiding as an Englishman with a fake identity with suspiciously good knowledge of German, as his father was a diplomat in both London and Berlin. There is also Gordon Jackson with the loss of his sight and his despair about having to give up his betrothed, there is the family man whose wife is having a baby in his absence with that whole family story, there is the major (Basil Radford) struggling with the challenges of his responsibility, there are the sore trials used by the Germans make the camp existence more difficult than necessary for the prisoners, who nevertheless manage to break loose into comedy when an occasion arrives. It's heartrendingly human all the way, and the great love story developing in the ruins with inevitably critical consequences makes this film a definite and almost obligatory classic. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038396/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Mr Ace (1946) (6/10) Sylvia Sidney trying her luck with gangsters for politics, saved by a professor 16 May 2018

135


For all its professionalism and excellent music, this is not a very significant film. I actually fell asleep several times during the long gaps of any intrigue leading forward. It becomes interesting not until towards the end, but there is one very interesting character, who actually sustains the whole film: Roman Bohnen as the professor. He raises your interest the moment he first appears, and you look forward to his return throughout the film, which fortunately frequently is repeated. He is the only clever one, while the others are not very convincing. George Raft is always himself as a gangster, and it's impossible to ever like him - his name is enough to deter you from any film he is in. But Sylvia Sidney is even worse - she is probably the least possible convincing actress for a politician. The twists towards the end save the intrigue and the script, which isn't bad, but the one thing lacking is credibility. They say that all is fair in politics, but the end proves this wasn't politics at all but merely the old worn-out story of bitter opponents ending up as lovers. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038752/?ref_=ur_urv Cloak and Dagger (1946) (9/10) Gary Cooper on mission impossible saved by Lilli Palmer as a beautifuil and experienced Italian 10 September 2018

Fritz Lang on top gear at the height of his powers to create atmosphere and suspense, here with Gary Cooper as a top nuclear scientist commissioned to save some colleagues at the mercy of the Germans, among them an elderly lady, and there is some traumatic procedure to begin with. As Lilli Palmer enters, the scene changes completely, and she takes over the film, reducing Gary Cooper to a dummy. There are however some important universal arguments in the beginning and also recurring later in the film about science and responsibility - Gary Cooper makes the appropriate and eternally valid remark, that while man should spend billions on extirpating cancer and famine, he instead wastes it on war and nuclear bombs. This is actually the message of the film, that gets rather muddled up in the thriller proceedings, as there are some developed intrigues going on including a false American lady spying for the Germans, some kidnappings and abductions, some adventurous passages including a U-boat and even a siege with lots of gunfire and casualties. In brief, here is everyhting you could wish for in a film by Fritz Lang at top speed, and the mood is almost gothically sustained all the way through. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038417/ I See a Dark Stranger (1946) (9/10)

136


Who can take Deborah Kerr seriously as a Nazi spy? Well, that's what she becomes involuntarily. 8 October 2018

The films of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliatt (they made quite a number together) are usually very much mixed up with complicated intrigue, high suspense, hilarious comedy, chaos and turbulence and an end of either surprise or relief. This is no exception but rather one of the most perfect examples. It's Deborah Kerr's film all the way, naturally, she always makes every film she is in, and this was still in the beginning of her long career, having recently finished "Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" (playing three different characters) and soon embarking on "Black Narcissus". Trevor Howard, having just finished the perfect gentleman in "Brief Encounter", is just that, mainly only assisting Deborah Kerr and doing his best to keep her out of trouble, which isn't an easy thing in a Launder-Gilliatt film. She actually gets mixed up with German spies in Ireland and accidentally becomes one herself, meeting very odd colleagues of espionage on her journeys, (one of them is Katie Johnson, later famous for surviving all the "Lady-Killers"), while the most fatal one is Raymond Huntley, ending up in a wheel-chair. But he main asset of the film is its extreme qualities of entertainment, the protagonists constantly bumping into crowds of odd people and characters, all picturesque, the greatest treat being a funeral procession between the borders within Ireland. It's an espionage comedy of great rank, with a touch of serious business in it, as Deborah almost finds herself with the fate of D-day in her hands. Naturally Trevor ultimately saves her, from all except Cromwell... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038289/?ref_=ur_urv The Madonna’s Secret (1946) (9/10) An artist persecuted by his models being murdered, and he doesn't know if he is doing it himself. 22 October 2018

A very intricate and clever thriller, like a labyrinth with no way out, but nevertheless, in spite of the main detective getting lost on the way, there is a final answer as a surprise to everybody. A brilliant artist is obsessed with a model he lost in Paris by drowning some years ago, but he keeps painting her over and over again, using other models to realize her, which naturally they object to: they want to be themselves and not the model he lost. And then more models of his are getting lost and drowned in the same way, and he is bewildered, gradually entering the suspicion that there is someone else within him who is his own enemy, while the police is equally bewildered. And yet the main detective, a journalist, is cocksure that there can be no other murderer than the artist himself. It's a very romantic film, the artist is extremely clever but melancholy and sad to the same degree, since of course he loved the models that were drowned for him. He plays the piano, and it is always sad muic, by Chopin, Beethoven or his own very

137


romantic improvisations. The music adds atmosphere to this very moody film but is never obtrusive or dominating. There are many reminiscenses here of "Laura" a year before, the same obsession with an extremely beautiful portrait, even two of them here, but there is also some very interesting discussions about art, since the dominating character leading the play here is the artist. It's a film that would deserve being seen several times, and once you have seen it, you will certainly return to it or at least never forget it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038714/?ref_=ur_urv A Matter of Life and Death (1946) (10/10) David Niven in a crashing plane is stranded between life and death and doesn’t know where to go 23 January 2019

This is one of the most intriguing and ingenious film scripts ever realized in the cinema, playing metaphysically with dimensions and giving extreme licence to magnificent creative imagination. It is actually a near-death-experience boosted to spectacular levels of fantasy and science fiction, but the firm hold of reality is always there – there is not a word of nonsense in all this phantasmagoria of the wildest indulgences in the unknown. The other world (in black and white) is given a very practical order with protocols, documents, strict discipline and careful adherence to paragraphs, while doctor Roger Livesey’s practical world although totally scientific closes no door to any possibility. This is actually a film of four dimensions, the small village with its amateur theatre company and the doctor’s interest in photography includes both rustic realism and parapsychological insights, while the metaphysical spiritual world is both unearthly spiritual and extremely well organised in perfect mundane order. To this comes the wonderful acting by all people involved and above all, the splendid dialogue. This is even more a literary film than ”A Canterbury Tale”, and the script with its conversations is worth studying word by word for its sparkling wit and exact logic in all its metaphysics. In the beginning there is a rehearsal by the local amateur theatre company of ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which is accompanied by a grammophone. The record played is Mendelssohn’s music to that play, and the interesting thing to note is, that that very music was used in Max Reinhardt’s great film of the play some dozen years earlier; so here is another example of Powell-Pressburger’s ingenious penchant for telling details, in this quotation or flattering reference to Reinhardt’s film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038733/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Shop at Sly Corner (1946)

138


(10/10) The ultimate Via Crucis for an old antiquary 13 March 2019

This would have been a perfect part for Edward G. Robinson, and it is most probably the finest performance ever on the screen by Oskar Homolka, who is the old antiquary in the shop by Sly Corner with a rising concert violinist for a daughter (Muriel Pavlow), who is all he has to live for. Her career is just beginning, when his employee Kenneth Griffith in his first part, one of the most abominable crooks ever created on film, causes problems by blackmailing his employer, who has a long and troublesome past. The drama is gripping and at the same time both horrifying and unbearably exciting, because it is impossible to guess how events will develop, and there are constantly new surprising turnings. Oskar Homolka's hard tried extremely lonely father makes an unfathomably fascinating character, as you know he has to constantly think hard to solve his problems, but it is impossible to guess how his mind is working - it is too clever for everyone, and only he himself can ultimately resolve the situation for everybody. The daughter's suitor is also involved and plays an important part, especially for the conclusion. It is one of those forgotten and outrageously underrated noir films from a very foggy London but with a story that vies with Dickens. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265744/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt The Overlanders (1946) (10/10) Australian epic for all times made on a true story 3 May 2019 The most striking characteristic of this film is its splendid cinematography - for a cineast enjoying fine photography, this is an inexhaustible gold mine of fine sequences. The story is no less impressing, it's a true story, of how a determined farmer decided to rather drive his thousands of cows across all Australia than leave to the Japanese, as the invasion was imminent. It's a wondrous epic of surmounting atrocious difficulties, constantly under the threat of the herd starting a stampede, which the thousand bullocks actually do twice, and the question of the miracle of how so many cows could be well and appropriately directed into a film must arise. Well, they did it, and as a true story made almost like a documentary, it is better and more impressing than most westerns, excelling them all in downright determined stalwartness obliged by necessity, in absolutely genuine Aussie style. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038821/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1

139


Blue Skies (1946) (8/10) Bing comes between Mary and Fred, and they all end up losers. 10 May 2019

A rather melancholy story lifted up by Irving Berlin's music and Fred Astaire's top dancing - he meant this film to be his last, and there is a touch of tragedy to the finale, which still is the most accomplished show item in the film, together with the overwhelming virtuosity and fantastic trick filming of "Puttin' on the Ritz"; but what's the matter with the dummy Bing Crosby? He has a fine voice but nothing else, no temperament, no passion, no expression, his acting is awkward, and together with Fred he makes a clumsy and stupid impression. The story is interesting for its long range from the 20s to the 40s - Fred loves Mary and makes shows with her and wants to marry her all through the film, but Bing comes in between, and for some reason she falls in love with him. Eventually they get married but separate, because Bing is actually married to his night clubs, which he constantly keeps changing, and Mary in the end can't bear with his inconstancy. When Mary has ditched Fred once too much, he hits the bottle, with consequences. It's a problematic plot of a "mĂŠnage a trois" were ultimately no one gets anyone, and all they have is their music, their shows, their dancing and Irving Berlin's tunes. Most of Bing's performances here are ridiculous, while Fred for some reason always managed to surpass himself. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038370/ Young Widow (1946) (10/10) War pilots coming home and returning to war, alive or dead 16 June 2019

This is Jane Russell's one serious film, or at least it begins as such, on the brink of turning into a downrightr noir, but then Louis Hayward appears, a man was missing in her life, and here he is. But he doesn't come alone. Along there is a whole bunch of merry war pilots with their girls crowding into the apartment which she has to stay in with a friend for want of vacancies in all hotels in New York, and so it turns into a brilliant, ebullient and very enjoyable comedy. Many have said that this is Jane Russell's best film, and it couldn't be otherwise. She is as beautiful as Hedy Lamarr and Linda Darnell, and her grief as a widow becomes her more than well and adds to the attraction - Louis Hayward's reactions are perfectly natural and logical. Still, the serious background remains, many war pilots never return, and they still all have to return to battle. This was made towards the end of the war, but although it is closing on the finish (with bombings of Tokyo), it isn't quite over yet, and the Gerry Taylor subplot stresses the concerns. It's a wonderful film, the dialogue is like

140


crossfire all through but positively witty all the way, and it will be a joy to once return to this film once more. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039114/ Sentimental Journey (1946) (9/10) The importance of unicorns 23 August 2019

This is a typical Maureen O'Hara film where she shines as beautifully as ever in a tragical role for a change, but she couldn't be more convincing - she always is. William Bendix shines better than her husband (John Payne), Bendix is always an advantage to every film he is in, and here he at least makes an effort at child psychology, which the playwright doesn't. Cedric Hardwicke is the family doctor and as good as such as ever, while the child (Connie Marshall) makes the film. The story is interesting enough with its touch on parapsychology, but entering the imaginative mind of a child, everything is made credible. This is actually how it could work. Maureen feels she has to leave Bill which worries her, so she finds a child to adopt to take care of him when she is gone, which he at first fails to realize and appreciate. There is sugared music all through, and nothing wrong with that, it establishes the soft mood of sadness of the film and sticks to it, and it is finally the music that opens Bill's mind when everything else has failed. This is also quite obvious and natural. This is a film to love for its sincere warm-heartedness, and the stormy ocean is brought into the picture to accentuate the drama. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038922/ The Inside Job (1946) (7/10) Naturally something always goes wrong, but you'll never know what until it's too late... 11 October 2019

This is a B-feature trifle which could have been turned into something great and ineteresting, because there are many twists to this tale. The main character (Alan Curtis) has been in jail and makes an effort to go straight, when an old criminal colleague turns up and offers him a job and actually forces him to accept it by blackmail. This is the tragedy. His wife (Ann Rutherford) sees no other choice than to accept supporting him, while he intends to take his revenge on the partner (Preston Foster) by taking all the loot himself. The caper almost succeeds, it seems to good to be true, but then there are some human factors turning up, like a kite getting stuck in a window, a boy that will not be disposed of, a dog is involved, the boy proves to have lost his mother while his father turns out to be a policeman... It's an interesting

141


moral tale, and you might not be in complete agreement with the judge's final verdict, but the law is the law. It's allright for an interesting entertainment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038643/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Body and Soul (1947) (10/10) The troublesome career of a boxer through jungles of corruption and complications. The fantastic feat of this film is to turn an ordinary story delving into the gutter depths of the lousiest of sports, boxing, and its established system of corruption, into a drama of the highest class and universal interest. The credits are many, first of course to the team of the writer and the director, Abraham Polonsky and Robert Rossen, while the writer perhaps here is number one. He was only able to make a few outstanding films noir in Hollywood before he was blacklisted and chased out of the country, hindered from making any more films for next to 20 years, turning him very bitter against America and Hollywood – what a waste! The actors are all at their best and more than outstanding, especially Lilli Palmer at her most beautiful with the loveliest eyes ever seen on the screen, John Garfield as the simple but more than straight-forward boxer, Anne Revere as the mother who sees everything through, Hazel Brooks as the irresistible temptation, a downright bombshell of beauty, the unforgettable Canada Lee as the fellow honest boxer who gets all the beatings, and all the others, most of them crooks, and most of them blacklisted like Polonsky – all except Robert Rossen, who was one of the few that, like Elia Kazan, got away by cooperating with the infamous inquisition. But the strongest weight of the movie lies with the architectural composition – it all towers up towards the final boxing match, which the audience throughout the movie learns to have ever greater expectations of, with ever more troublesome complications in the way for John Garfield and his friends and family, one of them even getting killed, the definite turning point of the drama for the worse. When the finale of the boxing match finally comes you are not disappointed – it's a thriller in itself. And strange enough, this totally noir film comes out safe on the other side, which you had every good reason to expect least of all. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039204/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Carnegie Hall (1947) (9/10) The problems of musical professionalism interestingly revealed The meaning of the film gets drowned in the overwhelmingly good performances of the artists, and there are any number of them: they are all there, Artur Rubinstein, Jasha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Leopold Stokowski, Bruno Walter, Artur Rodzinski, Fritz Reiner, Ezio Pinza, Lily Pons and even Tchaikovsky (vaguely discerned from some distance, impersonated, of course,) and although Marsha Hunt

142


makes a good and touching performance as the mother who loses first her husband and then her son in the same way – getting lost making their own ways – the superficial acting of that story must drag the film down from the top levels of the performances. The key scene to the whole thing is however Jasha Heifetz' communication with Marsha, when he eloquently comforts her for all her grief better than anyone could have done. The personality of Jasha Heifetz is somehow the key to the whole problem, which is the alienation of the artist from an ordinary human life, which is what both the father and the son can't bear and rebel against. Jasha Heifetz was often considered inhuman in his seemingly callous attitude, and even in his acting here he gives a rather stiff and almost robot-like impression, but his words couldn't be warmer, and they could but come from the heart, which still beats down there under all the layers of superhuman professionalism and completely reconciles Marsha (Nora) with her fate. Edgar G. Ulmer made some very odd films in extremely different directions, there is one film about tuberculosis and another horror film with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, which could be their best – and here he films music, and as a music film of music and about music it will certainly endure for all ages and continue to impress all lovers of real music. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039244/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Long Night (1947) (10/10) Barbara Bel Geddes and Henry Fonda perfectly matched and convincing as the victims of Vincent Price. 22 October 2015

I guess the ambition behind this film was to make it better than the original, that is the French "Le jour se lève" by Marcel Carné with Jules Berry outstanding as the crook with the tragic hero Jean Gabin and his heart-breaking love Arletty in the greatest of French melodramas. In all films with Jean Gabin he dies in the end. Henry Fonda does not and is a somewhat more prosaic and convincing tragic hero, more humanly credible, than Jean Gabin's great cliché. Barbara Bel Geddes as his love is even more down to earth, a very palpable orphan girl displaying total honesty all the way, while Vincent Price as the crook, here a magician and expert trickster and con man living by professional lies all the way, is more subtle than Jules Berry but less of a character, the least convincing of the three. Ann Dvorak, on the other hand, makes an impressing sub and plays a very important part in triggering Henry Fonda up to his total fury, which simply must be sympathized with, which also the crowd does, which is expertly filmed. On the whole, the direction in this film is as marvelous as in any Anatole Litvak film, he knows like Elia Kazan how to handle people and make them convincing in probably some very deep knowledge of human nature, which makes this film a great experience to live through. To all this comes the music, Beethoven's seventh in fantastic arrangements, different every time, which adds to the moody dark atmosphere growing and ominously building up towards the inevitable catastrophe – the music puts the last touch to the masterpiece. I have to admit it, I felt the Jean Gabin film rather overrated, slow, heavy and even partly

143


boring, but this simpler but more efficient American version is not. I have to give it ten points, even though it's no more than a humbler remake of one of the most famous of all noirs. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039581/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Dear Murderer (1947) (10/10) Too much speculation in the perfect murder simply must go wrong with a vengeance... What a glorious mess of jealousy, infidelity, murder and aborted intrigue! But with what stylishness all this advanced and intelligent cruelty is worked out! I have never seen Eric Portman in a sympathetic character, more often than not he has been an almost unilaterally determined murderer and nothing else, and this time he is married to the overly beautiful Greta Gynt. Of course he must love her with a passion which makes it impossible for him to live without her, but how little he knows her! You must not trifle with lovely women,for their beauty will always give them the upper hand on you, and you will be helpless. For all his intelligence and perfect scheming, Portman commits the one mistake of actually believing that his wife loves him when she tells him so, and of course she does, but in her own way. In fact, Portman in all his brilliant superiority of intelligent calculation is the only one who commits mistakes, and he does it all the time and doesn't even notice it, deluded as he is by his own self-confidence and trust in his own perfection, which is hopelessly hollow. Dennis Price as usual makes a brilliant appearance, although unwillingly awkward, while Greta Gynt is the main attraction of this extremely intellectually stimulating play. It's impossible to guess the outcome, and when the desperate chess love game is finished and everyone beaten, only Greta Gynt remains and makes her exit with a hearty laugh. Well, for a lovely woman like her with all those lovers and cavaliers, victims and wrecks, she is superior enough to detach herself from her own tragedy with a laugh. Murder is no laughing matter, and Dennis Price for one understands that too well, while all the others... Anyway, Greta Gynt definitely has the last laugh. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039306/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Woman in the Hall (1947) (9/10) Beggar women getting mixed up with reality with some human fireworks of clashes of destiny for an interesting result 4 April 2017

Splendid concoction of the complications women sometimes end up with in their difficult dealings with reality as a tricky means of survival if once the men are out of

144


their lives. It so happens that two men oblige these three drifting women with actually offering them their support and even marriage, which certainly no wise man would do in this case. The mother is a professional cheat, and her daughters are ruined in the trade, one of them (Jean Simmons) actually stealing from her employer and benefactor not realizing it is wrong, since she uses the money only for the good of others. Cecil Parker marrying the cheat is as awkward as ever, he never seemed to get any character right, but here at least he succeeds in turning a bleak story to almost a comedy. I love the scene in the restaurant, when suddenly the cheat of a mother together with her newly wedded husband (Cecil Parker) is confronted with the vengeful brother of the man who once deserted her and now intends to marry her daughter, who is also present, with her godmother, one of the benefactresses the mother has cheated. All these victims of her artfulness never seem to mind her tricks much but are pleased to recognize her swindle for what it is and make the best of it, to ultimately direct her out of her trade. The final court drama is a wonderful climax to this spicy confusion of intrigues and people involved in them, and the judge seems to enjoy it. Fascinating film, resembling no other, and it's an especially interesting study of women. Ursula Jeans is marvellous in the straightness of her unhesitating continuous deceit. Note the very young Susan Hampshire as Jay in the beginning as a small girl. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039999/?ref_=nv_sr_6 Nightmare Alley (1947) (10/10) The difference between a genius and a geek? None, since both are only human. 21 March 2016

There are many aspects to this film, which must give inevitable and almost compulsory afterthoughts, but it is actually basically a very moral tale simply about hubris, offering an anatomy of how it works. The story is the more convincing and shocking for being totally logical all the way – there is no flaw in the human logic anywhere, although it more than just touches on the supernatural. Stan does really possess powers of more than ordinary psychological or spiritual insight, but the problem is that instead of learning how to deal with them wisely he is carried away by the intoxication of their possibilities. Indeed, he might have succeeded and reached the utmost top, if he hadn't met with a mercilessly calculating professional psychologist, who doesn't hesitate to abuse her superior knowledge of the workings of the human mind for her own selfish ends. The film is the more shocking and upsetting for there being no open violence anywhere – there are threats, and one slight encounter, but the absence of any physical violence and the more brutal and evil mental violence strikes home much more fatally and is what turns this film and story into a nightmare. The stone cold inhumanity in the treachery of who actually helped him to success is what turns everything upside down and ruins him, and his position is of supreme vulnerability, as it only rests on good faith, – and that's what turns him to the opposite extreme. "How can you sink so low? Because he rose too high." It's a heart-rending story, and no one could have made it more convincing than Tyrone Power, an actor too good-

145


looking for his own good, which was evident from the very start of his career, and somehow he manages to put his own tragedy into this film, which he himself considered his best. At the same time it's a scary parable of Hollywood and how it works, how it's all built on dreams and make-believe, and how little it takes to make it all crumble. This film was made at the peak of the noir epoch and might well be the best noir film of them all, offering much more than what meets the eye and can be grasped by mortal understanding, leaving you more than almost any other film more to think of afterwards than you can fathom. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039661/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Courtenays of Curzon Street (1947) (8/10) Anna Neagle sings and dances through three wars faithfully accompanied by Michael Wilding 5 June 2017

It's Noel Coward's "Cavalcade" with 15 years added to it but without Noel Coward, and it's almost one war too much: the second world war passes by with a sigh, and they almost don't notice it. What do you have instead of Noel Coward? Actually a lot of things. Formost is the brilliant musical score, dominated by Tchaikovsky's PathÊtique symphony, which you first hear and attend together with Queen Victoria (who sleeps through it, and you only see her from the rear,) and which forms a kind of morosely moody background to the whole story. The score is actually composed by Anthony Collins, one of Britain's foremost conductors at the time, most famous for his epoch-making readings of Sibelius, and I didn't know he was a composer himself as well. The music is brilliant och fluent throughout, with excellent renderings of Strauss and the tunes of the periods. Michael's sister Mary once starts playing "On the Blue Danube" on the piano, and the story makes it develop into full orchestra, which is marvellously done. Michael Wilding always makes an uplifting appearance, and Anna Neagle dances surprisingly well – her voice and mode of singing is perhaps a bit outdated today, but they both age admirably well. There are some very heart-rending scenes between them, especially during the first world war, but they dominate the film completely. The only other dame to importune is swiftly disposed of and is never heard of again. What you lack is the wit and overwhelming pathos from Noel Coward's timeless film. There is practically no pacifism here at all, which is the eloquently dominating element of "Cavalcade". So this is not a great film, but still very well worth watching and enjoying, especially for the wonderful rendering of the times before the first world war. There is no end to the generous lushness of the scenery here, which makes it very convincingly super romantic.

146


During the 1929 crisis there is an episode when the family is forced to sell their home, and they get a good price for it. This is pointed out by critics as a weak point, as they in the last minute decide not to accept the offer, but it's actually the contrary: a very important point made by Kathy, as she prefers enduring the ruin and keeping the family and home against any odds, even if they are impossible, which by challenging the impossibility they manage to overcome. It's perhaps the most important point of the film, underlining the paramount importance of keeping the family together by its main uniting factor the home. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039281/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_17 The October Man (1947) (9/10) John Mills innocently persecuted all but to death. 7 September 2016

The problem with this film is that the murderer is obvious long before the murder is committed. Until that happens, the film is of little interest, while it then starts stirring with ever increasing tension, forcing your interest never to relax for one moment but actually compelling you to overwhelming empathy with the hardships of John Mills, who is exposed to horrible pressure, just because he is stamped as a mental invalid. His performance dominates the film, while Joan Greenwood is always a revelation. Kay Walsh makes a typical role of hers and sustains it well to the bitter end, while all the other actors also are absolutely convincing. The face of John Mills as Mr Peachy expresses his mind will stay in your mind forever – it's a marvel of a scene. Not all Eric Ambler's characters are completely credible, while the character here realized by John Mills is the more so. The fantastic photo all the way adds to the film's high reputation and quality. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039676/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Exile (1947) (10/10) Douglas Fairbanks Jr cultivating tulips together with a lovely peasant girl as a romantic king in exile in Holland 2 February 2016

Max Ophüls is one of the greatest directors of all times, he started as assistant director to Anatole Litvak and learned very much from him, which you can see and feel in his films: they had a unique great efficiency of direction in common, but Ophüls added to his supreme mastery also a knack for moving cameras. You see that almost hallucinatory camera-work in every one of his films. His Jewish origin (his real name was Maximilian Oppenheimer) gave him problems with the German Nazi regime although he was an established leading director, so he changed his name and went to France – Ophüls is an old German aristocratic name, which he felt suited his

147


image. He made no films between 1940 and 1947, being practically exiled but working in France and Italy and even America but returned to the screen in 1947 to make this flashing virtuoso film of exuberant romantic intrigue – the exiled king of England in constant fear of his life by the wicked roundheads escapes to a farm in Holland where he cultivates tulips with a charming country girl, with whom he naturally falls in love. Another exiled Englishman, an errant actor out of work, exuberantly played by Robert Coote, poses to be the exiled king to be treated thereafter but is visited by a French countess who knew the real king, which complicates matters, which are further complicated as the farm is invaded by roundheads who come to root out the king dead or alive. The film is actually written and produced by Douglas Fairbanks Jr, so it's really very much his film, and he makes the best of it in superb classical Fairbanks style with dashing duels and much kissing in between – especially impressive is the great hullabaloo with all the roundheads falling over each other in the desperate chase for the king in the windmill. There are great windmill acrobatics here. In brief, the film is a feast to the eyes, the story is mounting in intensity and interest all the way, the music is perfectly suited to illustrate the moods, the idylls, the drama, the tension and the high romance, it's in most ways the perfect adventure film where nothing is missing, and Max Ophüls' supreme direction and marvellous use of details crowds the film with opulent excellence from beginning to end. In brief, after seven years' absence Ophüls was back on the screen, and his next film would be the masterpiece "Letter from an Unknown Woman". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039360/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Paradine Case (1947) (10/10) A mysterious lady accused of murder unwillingly brings everyone down with her in her tragedy 30 June 2017

This is actually one of Hitchcock's psychologically most interesting films, since there is so much going on that we know nothing about and only can guess at, as it is merely hinted at and given glimpses of, like shreds of the top of an iceberg, while the real drama goes on within the characters invisibly and out of stage. The actual drama has occurred before the film starts, and we are tossed immediately into the arrest of the mysterious lady, who carries around more knowledge and experience than what is good for anyone, least of all for her lawyer Gregory Peck, who immediately falls under her spell. We are not even informed on what grounds she is arrested, and it seems she is locked up only on suspicion – no fingerprints, no evidence, no eyewitness, nothing at all'but circumstantial fishiness. It all circles around her, her fascinating character who leaves no one unaffected, even Gregory Peck's wife (Ann Todd) is fixed on her and wants her to get away whether guilty or not. She has a burden of experience as brought out from the slums of Naples and has had an uncounted number of lovers before she finds herself the task of becoming a blind old man's eyes. What she didn't bargain for was his valet. It was Louis Jourdan's first film, and his character is almost as fascinating as Alida 148


Valli's. At first you never even see his face, as he stays in the shadow when answering the door. He adds some extra tons of intrigue to the story, and the scenes where Gregory Peck investigates the scene of the crime with him hovering about and absconding him is central to the post mortem drama. The main question which appears as the drama is brought to an end and all the facts have become known is, can we really blame her? She had no calculating motives in marrying the old blind colonel, she really wanted to serve as his eyes and get a good life of comfort and luxury into the bargain, but then he happened to have such a young and handsome valet. Of course such a woman must fall in love with him and start seeing the discrepancy between him and her old blind husband. Of course she would start dreaming about possibilities. Or else she would not have been a real woman. The only one in the end who sympathizes with her is Charles Laughton's besotted wife Ethel Barrymore, who makes a pathetic character, but she is actually the only good one. Gregory Peck has torn Louis Jourdan to shreds and destroyed his life, in the bargain he has ruined the case for Alida Valli, and Charles Laughton as the judge sees it all and laughs at it with gleeful cynicism, as if he found it the merrier the lousier characters he got to expose themselves. Charles Coburn observes the alarming peril of Gregory Peck's course of an aggressive defense but doesn't reach him to warn him. In the end the real tragedy is that Alida Valli has killed for love and is punished for it, but she doesn't care and almost gladly accepts her punishment, since her real punishment was to lose her love as her lawyer in his love for her tore her love to pieces in defending her – and ruined himself into the bargain. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039694/?ref_=nv_sr_1 An Ideal Husband (1947) (10/10) A feast to the eyes and the intellect from beginning to end thanks to Oscar Wilde 8 July 2017

An ideal rendering of Oscar Wilde at his best, this is a feast for the eyes all the way through, with excellent acting by Michael Wilding, Diana Wynyard, Hugh Williams, Paulette Goddard, Glynis Johns and C. Aubrey Smith among many others, a little drowned perhaps in too much music, but never mind – the music is good as well, especially in the beginning at the grand opening scene of the soirée with all the top society of belle époque London all at their gaudiest dresses. It's difficult to say what's best in this film, who is the best actor (while I am leaning towards Diana Wynyard), if the prize goes to the colourful scenery and sets, but I think the main triumph of the film is Oscar Wilde's own dialogue, which must make every screening of this play into a success - it has been done so often. It's a joy to behold all the way, you can't tire of it, and you just want it to go on forever, even with Paulette Goddard busy at new ugly schemes of blackmail and destructive cultivation of greed - yes, this is actually Oscar Wilde's most and maybe only moral play.

149


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039485/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Whispering City (1947) (9/10) Love and death accompanied by a romantic piano concerto in Quebec 26 April 2017

Intriguing thriller in Quebec involving all kinds of suspense tricks including old murders and new, fake murders and phantoms, haunting memories and romance, suicide and a poor brilliant pianist working on his debut under the terror of his intolerably intolerant wife. The intrigue is difficult to follow as it develops all the time with surprising turns into upside down turbulence, but it nevertheless sticks together and adds up in the end. If you regard the piano concerto ('the Quebec concerto') as the hub around which everything evolves, you'll find it a rather masterful composition of intrigue, cinematography and music – in brief, nothing is actually missing in this intricately spiced stew of a very complicated but exotic repast. It's even worth watching again for enjoying the details. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039986/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Take My Life (1947) (10/10) An opera diva gets mixed up with her husband in a murder mystery of extreme cruelty 16 March 2017

Brilliant thriller with a musical touch to it, the key to the solution being a tiny melody putting the primadonna Greta Gynt on the track. This to me unknown actress dominates the film with a vengeance, never giving up on her lonely and heroic quest to clear her husband, wrongly accused of murder because of unfortunate circumstances speaking against him. The other great female part is Rosalie Crutchley, here very young but already deeply fascinating with her demonic suavity. Francis Sullivan is domineering as usual as the prosecutor and as perfectly objective as the lawyer Jaggers in "Great Expectations" the previous year, but the most interesting part is Marius Goring. He always makes overly intelligent parts risking to run amuck, but here you get closer to his hidden menace than ever. It was Ronald Neame's debut as a director, and it matches more than well any sustained thriller by Hitchcock or Anthony Asquith. It's brilliantly written, flattering the audience by always letting them know more than the actors, and the finale is a cliffhanger with a surprise to it. It was a long time since you last saw such a clever thriller. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039883/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Upturned Glass (1947) (10/10)

150


Doctor James Mason involved in a difficult jealousy drama with two women, one his mistress, the other her sister-in-law. 23 February 2015

This is a very unusual and intelligent thriller, like most thrillers involving doctors usually are. It is the first of James Mason's very few own productions and features his own wife, Pamela Mason, here Pamela Kellino, as the second of the two ladies he is involved with, both of them leading to disaster. The intrigue cleverly leads astray at times while at the same time it sharpens as the doctor (James Mason) finds his own case constantly more crucial. He stages a kind of mock trial with himself by giving a lecture at the medical theatre with all rows filled with young attentive students, and one student almost sees through his show and sharpens his case even further. Is he in control or is he not? Has he the right to judge what's right or wrong or has he not? The film poses many questions, and the questioning becomes increasingly more critical, until in the end he is faced with the final trial as a doctor, when an emergency calls on him to perform one more brain surgery. It's the doctor who assists him who puts him to the final test, and these scenes are the most interesting and important in the film. James Mason as the doctor has no other choice than to be consistent with his own argument and conclude his own case after having received an understated sentence by his elderly colleague. It's a remarkable film, not for its direction, which could have been better, but for its very thought-provoking story with the presentation of a case which not even doctors could in any possible way be called upon to give a fair judgement of. The tragedy of this case is that James Mason, one of the best actors ever, a constantly brooding romantic hero, more Hamletian than Byronic, has no other choice, which probably no one could reasonably disagree with. In addition, you can't help recognizing some details here from other, later films, that boast its influence, especially Hitchcock's "Vertigo", displaying the identical problem of a man's involvement in two women related with each other, Hitchcock much developing the theme to an equally crucial crisis but in another direction, while the very vertigo scenes Hitchcock must have got the idea of from here. It should also be noted, that John Monaghan, the script writer, appears as an extra (the truck driver), He made some similar appearances in some films, but this is the only film he wrote, with Mrs Mason as co-script writer. The intrigue with its complications and arguments is so psychologically interesting, that you find more in it each time you see it. For that reason, in spite of its flaws, I will give it a full 10. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039947/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Hungry Hill (1947) The Irish fighting it out for 50 years over a mine, women and whisky 27 July 2017

Margaret Lockwood is excellent, especially as she ages, from a rather wild young woman to a pathetic addict in London, exiled from Ireland by her own son, ruining herself at the roulette.

151


Everything in this film is about the same vein: tragedy as the result of self abuse, recklessness, whisky, brawls and terrible conflicts lasting over 50 years, as these hard-headed Irish never can take it easy and always are carried away by their bad temper. The exception is Dennis Price, the one with a diplomatic talent and some human understanding crossing the limitations of self-centredness, while his father Cecil Parker is the most impossible of all starting all the trouble and beating his grandson into a rogue. It's all very Irish, you have seen it all before, they never change but stick to cultivating their hard heads making it worse by revelling in whisky, and there will always be hard relentless fights for nothing. After 50 years, according to this story, there is at last peace between the two families, but how long will it last? Probably not any longer than at most until the civil war with mad dogs and Irishmen, unionists and nationalists; but the film is worth seeing for Margaret Lockwood and Dennis Price. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039479/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Deep Valley (1947) (10/10) Ida Lupino at her best facing hopeless challenges, 11 October 2017

I was always a fan of Ida Lupino as she never disappointed me but on the contrary always excelled herself, and here in this film more than ever. In the beginning she is a plain girl suffering from a stutter, which she gradually overcomes by the shock of some hard experience. As she gets involved with the ordeals of a convict, she starts developing her character and ends up a mature woman ready to meet life. The story is not very remarkable but actually rather banal, but the great tempest scene changes everything and especially the character of the film from rather a dull account of simple life out in the wilderness of pettiness and stagnant patterns into a thrilling drama. The music by Max Steiner and especially the photography makes this film a great experience. It develops into something of a Frank Borzage style saga of great human pathos, and in every scene with Ida Lupino you shiver and feel her torture and anguish as her situation continuously grows more complicated and inextricable in its hopelessness, but somehow she comes out of it alive after all, and you can give a sigh of relief that at last the tremendous suspense is over. Every actor besides makes a perfect job, they are all convincing in their very tiny world, the provincialism is extreme, but it is very well caught and realized in the film with great understanding. No one is entirely bad, and no one is entirely good, but they all have their problems. It's a very human film transcended into a masterpiece on a smaller scale by Ida Lupino and the director Negulesco. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039308/?ref_=nv_sr_1

152


Mourning Becomes Electra (1947) (7/10) Aeschylus reduced to humdrum quarrels of bleak provincialism., 20 October 2017

A stylish show with great performances of the best actors is not enough to varnish over the shortcomings of this mammoth mummy version of a great story. If you know the Aeschylus original, you just have to compare him with O'Neill and find O'Neill dwarfed to almost nothing. The Aeschylus play dramatizes a true story of flesh and blood and towering passion, Agamemnon is the lord of the world and returns home after ten years of absence in war with even a prisoner for a mistress, and his wife and queen Clytamnestra axes him to death in his bath out of long built up fury. She murders the mistress too. Her children are Electra and Orestes, and there is a younger daughter as well. Orestes has a close childhood friend Pylades, who helps Orestes and Electra to avenge their father. Orestes kills both his mother and his mother's lover, and that's the story. There is no Pylades in the O'Neill version and no younger sister. There is no chorus, which is vital in the Greek play for reflecting universal sentiment, and no poetry. Pylades is replaced by Kirk Douglas, who loves Electra but ultimately abandons her to her mourning. The axing of Agamemnon is by O'Neill replaced by Mrs Mannon stealing poison into her husband's medicine, who suffers from heart failure. Raymond Massey is impressing as usual as the general, Rosalind Russell gives her life's performance as Electra finally sealing herself up in mourning when both her mother and brother have shot themselves, she is actually innocent to any crime in the family while she accepts all the blame all the same, Michael Redgrave makes another of his many virtuoso performances of eccentricity and madness, Kirk Douglas is himself, Leo Genn is the murdered lover but don't get much to do or say before he is murdered, while perhaps the most impressing is Katina Paxinou as the mother, the only convincing character in this film, for her beauty and very expressive acting, more evident in her vibrations than in her talk. It's an interesting film, of course, but it's like a stranded whale, hopelessly dead and morbid and void of the original Greek zest, which is preserved and delivered only by Katina Paxinou. In brief, Aeschylus is to be preferred to this banal americanization of a great story reduced to petty humdrum provincialism. Not even the music constantly repeating itself manages to bring this show to any inspiring level. It's worth seeing though for the splendid dresses of the 1860s. The director did not make another film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039636/?ref_=nv_sr_1

153


They Won’t Believe Me (1947) (9/10) Getting mixed up with too many dames with accidents on the way... 12 February 2018

A fascinating account of complications, when a man cultivates his weakness for mistresses to constant points of no return... The real star here is Susan Hayward, although Robert Young is convincing enough in his desperate situation of confusion caught in a web of unfortunate turns, for which he blames and sentences himself, as any loving man would do, while it's impossible to judge him, while all his innocent dames are equally totally innocent... No one could expect any of all this to happen, least of all the victims. The force of the intrigue is the dialogue and the intelligent turns of the story, a fascinating labyrinth impossible to guessd at what it will offer next, and the crown of the piece is the dialogue between Robert Young and Susan Hayward. It's a great, concise and explicit noir, told with stringency and realism, and all you can say afterwards is, poor fellow... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039896/?ref_=ur_urv Dishonored Lady (1947) (10/10) "You didn't just save my life. You made my life worth living." 24 February 2018

Sometimes Hedy Lamarr appears like a double of Vivien Leigh, only more beautiful, more vulnerable and more untouchable. There is something about Hedy Lamarr you can never reach, while Vivien Leigh is too easily reached. This film manages to exploit the deeper resources of Hedy Lamarr maybe better than any film with her. Her beauty is always dangerous and here doubly so - to herself, for the character she is playing. She comes from Europe somewhere, her home country is never mentioned, she came alone with her father, an artist, who eventually committed suicide. You can imagine her problems started there. In New York she is highly appreciated as a successful artist, maybe too highly for her own good, and there is particularly a rich jeweller and millionaire, who never tires of trying to seduce her, mainly by insisting on giving her a ride in bad weather and instead of driving her home driving her to his place, where he insists on her having some drinks. The problem is that with all her dangerous beauty she is totally innocent and can't defend herself due to her complexes as a severely self-critical artist - like many sensitive and true artists, she can't believe in herself unless someone else does.

154


Fortunately she gains a very true friend in a psychiatrist, who actually is the hero of the plot. Dennis O'Keefe is all right, but he is second in importance to the turn of events. There are many other fellows as well, one good and one bad, and the bad one is entirely without character, and it's an interesting moment of truth that she instinctively leaves the home of the seducing jeweller the moment she hears the other entering - without recognizing his voice. There are many such poignant moments of immense psychological interest in the film, which makes it an extremely fascinating study, and thriller, for that matter, although there is never any blood. After a film like this you will love Hedy Lamarr forever. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039324/ Railroaded! (1947) (8/10) John Ireland convincing enough as something of the absolute villain. 26 February 2018

There is something demoniacally fascinating about John Ireland in this film, as if you almost would wish he could get away, but then his case is hopeless. All the other actors vanish in his presence, and the honest detective has no real character. The dames are opposites, they both put their faith in John Ireland and get the worse for it, but this noir certainly winds its way into constantly deeper intrigue of trouble, while John Ireland certainly makes the best of it. There are some flaws but not disturbing enough to be remembered. The story is good enough while you wonder at the policemen not discovering innocence when they see it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039748/ Secret Beyond the Door (1947) (9/10) Michael Redgrave tortured by guilt complex over dead wife, meets new wife to make matters worse. 10 April 2018

Joan Bennett is always good and reliable and worth seeing, and so is Michael Redgrave, no matter how weird characters he makes, and this is one of the weirdest. As a pychological thriller it's not quite credible, Joan Bennett showing some astonishing carelessness in now and then going into panic, and Michael Redgrave unable to control himself almost as a somnambulist. The supporting characters are almost more interesting, and the boy seems to be the only clever one. What actually makes this film is the effects, above all Miklos Rosza's always tremendous music, but also Fritz Lang's knack of conjuring some magic, here especially Joan Bennett losing

155


herself in dark corridors - it happens demonstrably frequently in this film. All these effects tend to tower up to some exaggerated theatricalness, while as a psychological thriller it would have been more efficient with less. But it's great cinematic magic, all the way to the end. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040766/ Lured (1947) (10/10) Lucille Ball moving the balls of many men and one too many 26 May 2018

A brilliant thriller with above all a splendidly intelligent script leading constantly further down into deeper mysteries of spurious handlings of young beautiful women in Soho. You never can guess what to expect next in this labyrinth of erring mistakes, as the police has nothing to go on in their search for a serial killer that makes all his young lady victims vanish without a trace. This is a treat for everyone and must especially have been so for the actors, who all are inspired to do better than their Best - George Sanders in a role that couldn't have suited him better, Lucille Ball in her freshest prime, Alan Mowbray as one of his many doubtful doubledealers with a hidden agenda, Charles Coburn more direct than ever, Cedric Hardwicke for once carefully concealed behind thick glasses as the perfect second hand dealer, and Boris Karloff in a brief but unforgettable display of exasperating horror. I was surprised that Douglas Sirk could make such an exquisitely many-faced film with so many surprising turns to it, which effectively promoted him in my esteem.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039589/ Dark Passage (1947) (9/10) An escaped convict has no chance of proving his innocence but tries anyway 2 July 2018

This is at the same time both one of the most romantic noirs and one of the darkest. Humphrey's situation is utterly hopeless, as he condemned for life escapes from San Quentin with no chance at all to get away with it, unless he changes his face, but even with that operation carried through successfully, he faces new overwhelming difficulties by murders and suicides and not a chance to prove his innocence. This is one of the main themes of most noirs: the helplessness of innocence to prove itself true, while all society seems united in attacking and prosecuting you for it, and in

156


most noirs this struggle against impossible odds is not very successful. Here Humphrey finds Lauren Bacall who appears from nowhere and helps him on the way, while Agnes Moorehead does her best to ruin even that small chance of a break - she has never been more furious. The cinematography is fascinating, this is a forerunner of both Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Frankenheimer's "Seconds", and the suspense is sustained all the way to the very end. It's certainly one of the best noirs of the forties, Franz Waxman's music helps in making it an accomplished cinematic masterpiece, and there is nothing wrong with the story. Only people lacking the sense of true romanticism could have any objection against the script. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039302/?ref_=ur_urv I Walk Alone (1947) (9/10) 14 years after a betrayal in bootlegging it's time for a settlement 7 July 2018

Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott continue to make a great couple, as they found each other in "Desert Fury". but here it is more sinister in black and white, and there is Kirk Douglas as an even fouler gangster than John Hodiak. Mary Astor is missing here and replaced by a more cynical and less motherly Kristine Miller, who didn't leave a mark on the screen. On the other hand, Wendell Corey is even better here than in "Desert Rage" and makes one of his finest appearances as the hopelessly subjugated slave worker with all his integrity lost. The great scene in the film is his scene, when Kirk forces him to lecture Burt on bureaucracy leading up to the crisis of Burt's own character and integrity assassination. Fortunately there is still Lizabeth Scott, and she upholds the entire picture, not only by her singing. As a singer she was worse than Ida Lupino. It's neither Burt's nor Kirk's best film, but both are excellent as former gangsters trying to resettle after the second world war, Burt after 14 years in prison and Kirk firmly established as a syndicate mobster. It just can't end well when the two meet again after 14 years when one let the other down. It was probably his performance here that gave Wendell Corey his only significant lead in a noir a few years later, ("The File on Thelma jordan",) but he was best as a supporting actor and will be remembered best as such - while both Burt and Kirk never stopped rising as stars. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039482/?ref_=tt_urv The Three Weird Sisters (1947) (8/10) 157


A boorish bully of a rich industrialist at the mercy of three weird sisters who need his money 12 July 2018

This appears like a black comedy, but it is actually a masked tragedy. The male protagonist, the sickly David Davies, who instantly gets bedridden and stays so as soon as he gets into the weird old house of his three sisters, should have been played by Charles Laughton, as the character is very much in his line. The three sisters are extreme characters all three of them, one deaf, one blind and the third one oversensitive to anything, which is a weird company indeed. Their brother instantly believes they are going to kill him, and they would indeed be motivated. The actual story is, that the derelict small mining town is hit by an earthquake demolishing many houses, and the three sisters as guardian angels and benefactors of the town promise to sponsor their restoration. The problem is they can't afford it, while their brother is a rich industrial baron, so they summon him to help them. He has no intention of doing so and thus leave his three sisters in an awkward position, which they can't accept. He has a secretary, Nova Pilbeam, who is his ony support in the gradually more serious intrigues conducted against him, and she is always lovely to look at. The film peters out in a genetral derailing of the intrigue, and the end is not satisfactory. You would have wished the three weird sisters to go on undisturbed. The main asset and attraction of the film is that parts of the script were written by Dylan Thomas, which makes the dialogue at times extremely relishable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040877/?ref_=tt_urv Born to Kill (1947) (8/10) Hardboiled noir of extreme proportions 30 August 2018

The cynical cruelty of this film is almost unbearable. Both Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney make outstanding performances but almost in the wrong direction. The big question that any reasonable man must ask, as he follows the patterns of Sam Wilde, is, how Helen doesn't immediately react against him, as she evidently sees him for what he is on an early stage. The answer is perhaps something that Sam says, that some women are attracted to murderers. That makes this film a psychological drama more than anything else. It's main asset is its absolute unpredictability - you will get constantly surprised at the turns that the action suddenly takes in most irrational directions. Lawrence Tierney actually seems to be born to kill, and after having seen this film you don't want to see him any more. Poor Claire Trevor - at least she actually loved her sister. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039211/

158


Captain Boycott (1947) (10/10) The misadventures of Captain Boycott leading to lasting but most unvoluntary fame 6 October 2018

I was surprised to see only 5 reviews of this outstanding historical feature with so many excellent actors in a story well up to the top standard of contemporary adventure and action films. This is an epic explaining the Boycott problem how it occurred and was invented by a series of curious events, starting with a patron's opprsssion of his farmers (Captain Boycott, Cecil Parker perfectly convincing in all his stupid cruelty of narrow-mindedness) and their reactions, led by opposing parties, one for peace and one for action, while Stewart Granger is in the middle, his horse also playing a prominent part in the drama. The main characters leading to action though are Alastair Sim as the vicar. the only one who actually knows and understands his turbulent Irish parishioners, and Robert Donat as the historical Irish leader Charles Stewart Parnell, appearing only in one scene which however determines the whole drama. There are some terrific scenes when the Irish get started in to action for real, and all the pub scenes are a feast to enjoy. There are many characters making up this drama, the Killains, the British soldiers (with Maurice Denham) and all the other agitated Irishmen, Stewart Granger is at his best with horse and all, - and all the others match him perfectly, including the scoundrels. This film deserves better attention as a lasting epic classic for all time. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039242/?ref_=nv_sr_1 They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) (10/10) Black market racketeers hiding in coffins 4 November 2018

It isn't obvious, but there is much humour in this very noir British film from the darkest alleys of London. The film is actually soaked in wet darkness, the water dripping everywhere, and it couldn't be more bleak and depressing, ominous of the doom of destiny and desperate in character, and still, the dialogue makes it at times hilariously funny. At the same time it's bitterly sinister, there is no end to the bottomless bitterness of Trevor Howard put away 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, and there are some very grim scenes, the grimmest probably being the visist at the house with the pianist. It sounds too good to be true, she plays Bach as the starved harrowed fugitive enters, and she almost welcomes him and offers bed and breakfast and more, even a gun. But she has a husband (Maurice Denham), and with his small part he puts a brand on the film which you will never forget, although even that one is basically funny. Sally Grey enters late in the film, she is the only one who visists him in prison, she waits long before she goes there, and she receives no hearty welcome, as Trevor has 159


no reason to think anything good about anyone. She didn't make many films, but every one of them is something very special, she played opposite Anton Walbrook in "Dangerous Moonlight" and became his wife, and perhaps her most impressive presence was in "Carnival", her first film in five years after the war. There are many other excellent performances, the film is full of them, Mary Merrall as 'Aggie' for instance dominates the whole gang of gansters with her astoundingly laconic character, and, of course, the whole gang of caretakers are priceless, Griffith Jones making perhaps the nastiest and cruellest villain in any British noir - he reminds you of Robert Newton's Bill Sikes in David Lean's "Oliver Twist" the following year. In brief, it's one of the best of all Brish noirs if not THE best, and another film which it brings to mind as a kind of twin (with equally soaked and dark alleys) is Carol Reed's "Odd Man Out". https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039895/?ref_=ur_urv Night Song (1947) (9/10) Merle Oberon lovelier than ever leading a blind Dana Andrews out of the abyss by music 13 November 2018

This is an interesting musical experiment on film. The night song refers to a composer creating music as a blind man, played by Dana Andrews, who makes it convincing enough. Merle Oberon is the rich San Francisco sponsor who discovers him and decides to do something about his blindness. She is always a marvel of beauty and here better than ever. Ethel Barrymore plays her advisory aunt and contributes a great deal to the charm of the film, but the real asset is Hoagy Carmichael as the blind composer's caretaker and fellow musician, who is an ornament to the film indeed, like he was in "To Have and Have Not", making an unforgettable solo number on the way. It's a beautiful film crowned by the performance of Artur Rubinstein as the pianist in the final concerto, impressing as ever, and the music isn't bad either. What has raised objections is the plot. Of course it's implausible, a blind man can never play faultlessly and improvise at random in perfect performances just like that, and Merle Oberon's deceit is bound to fail. The question is, which you will wonder throughout the film, what will happen when the deceit is discovered, and how will it happen? It's bound to happen, but the film actually manages to give it a smooth and felicitous turn, and you can't object against the marvellous development of the most impossible plot possible. In brief, it's film magic making it all possible although it couldn't be. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039659/ The Root of All Evil (1947) (9/10)

160


A girl is cheated out of her life, rises on her own, starts again, to meet new disasters, learning the hard way that money isn't all. 12 December 2018

There is not much to say about this film, actually. It is a very conventional and typical romantic and colourful Gainsborough feature with all the usual assets: interesting story, interesting characters, all done by excellent players, especially Phyllis Calvert in the lead, John McCallum as a Stewart Granger kind of knight to assist her whether she likes it or not, and Michael Rennie as a knavish joker - there is a great fight between the two after the middle of the film, and all the other characters are perfectly fit also, but there is one thing about this film that makes it special. It's the music. The name of the composer is Bretton Byrd, a name hardly noticeable at all at the end of the list of the crew, but it somehow makes the film stick together in a constant beautiful flow, always only as an accompaniment, there is no melody to stick out and stay on your mind, but it rather soothes the spectator as well as the actors into keeping the action going and the interest increasing, like a warm but excellent substitute for all the splendid colours that are missing in this black-andwhite representation, and making the film from beginning to end wholly enjoyable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039784/ Seven Keys to Baldpate (1947) (8/10) A thorough mess for an innocent idiot to cope with 15 December 2018

This is a criminal comedy the intrigue of which constantly gets more complicated as it keeps tying itself up in knots all the time. There are some reminiscences of "The Shining", it's the same kind of desert lonely hotel with a gloomy mystery hanging over it, but fortunately there is no horror here without laughter. As the characters keep turning up more and more to complicate the plot, there are also more and more ludicrous and deliciously surprising twists and turns to the tale, and some idiots add to the stew, especially the main character, the writer who arrives there to be able to write in peace which is the last thing he will find here, and who commits the greatest blunder of all. There are some crooks also, this is very fishy business, and a lot of money constantly changing hands, but also a beautiful secretary. You will not be disappointed but thoroughly entertained, as long as it lasts. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039815/ The Imperfect Lady (1947) (10/10)

161


Teresa Wright getting mixed up with aristocratic politician Ray Milland and misused Spanish pianist Anthony Quinn 20 December 2018

This is a surprisingly interesting thriller set in the Oscar Wilde world of 1892 with cheap theatres, ballets and dancers having a hard time in contrast to the highest levels of society with particular aristocrats being careful about not getting contaminated by scandals, which they can't avoid. Ray Milland is a liberal politician driving the Irish issue and the suffrage of women already in 1892, for which he is both furiously attacked by mobs and partly successful, who gets mixed up with Teresa Wright, lovely as usual in a role perfectly fitted for her, as a poor ballet dancer who for her beauty gets into trouble with ungentlemanly men. On one occasion she is saved by Anthony Quinn, a brilliant Spanish pianist in London who is out of work, and gradually finds himself in deep trouble. Only she can save him, but she is then already heavily mixed up with society and politics. Music plays an important part here, it's practically only Chopin all the way, and at one instance Anthony Quinn performs an absolutely brilliant improvisation on the Nocturne opus 9:2. The action is fast throughout, and the blend between extremely different levels of society in the scandal problem produces an intrigue of lasting interest, growing more exciting all the time. Cedric Hardwicke makes a perfect lord of authority caring only about the particulars of a good name, but he does no harm although he is not to be trifled with. The theatre atmosphere settings of the Music Hall world of the 1890s (as found also in Chaplin's "Limelight") is wonderful and what will be the last thing you will forget about this film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039487/ Framed (1947) (9/10) One of those perfectly written and very poetic noirs 16 January 2019

Like in so many noirs, the most enjoyable ingredient of this film is the excellent dialog. It keeps you spellbound by its wit and suggestive innuendos all the way, everyone is clever and an interesting character, even the most idiosyncretic Edgar Buchanan as Jeff Cunningham, although they are all rather basic and normal - except Janis Carter, who is the leader of the film, very suavely leading you on in her very incalculable mind to some extreme surprises she didn't even expect herself. Glenn Ford made thjs before "Gilda" but it's the same character, - he always made the same character. Here he is more vulnerable and actually gets more than enough drunk twice, which makes him such a suitable puppet to use for an extremely criminal plot. It's a classic noir, the story will not disappoint you, and the final looks of Glenn Ford and Janis Carter will endure and follow you beyond the film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039396/

162


California (1947) (9/10) Barbara Stanwyck as golddigger in California 1850 by her song and skill as gamester 23 January 2019

Ray Milland is her counterpart in this sadly underrated and forgotten gem of American westerns in the 40s, while this epic actually catches a very important historical chapter, covering the development of California from the great gold rush and pioneer invasion in the 1850s to how it became a state of the union. Victor Fleming’s music adds a fresh good spirit to the film by catching the right mood of the pioneer and golddigger songs. Barbara Stanwyck is as always outstanding and rises from the mud she is thrown into from the start to the usual brilliance of a leading lady not to be trifled with. Of course, although they are enemies from the beginning and practically through the whole film, you know from the start that Ray and Barbara will end up together, and the main interest of the film is to see how. The best part of the film is the beginning, the pioneering trail suddenly changing character as gold is discovered, and the election scenes in the end. Barry Fitzgerald is always enjoyable, although he always makes the same character, but at least it is reliable as an asset and thoroughly enjoyable. Anthony Quinn turns up in a crucial stage and adds to the story, there will even be some shooting eventually. It’s not a regular western at all but very interesting as especially an refreshing and glorious chronicle of Californian history. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038392/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Macomber Affair (1947) (8/10)

Game hunters in Africa with naturally a very bad outcome 24 February 2019

This is a very turpid Hemingway story, which he must have told out of his own experience as a qualified game hunter in Africa, here acting as a guide (Gregory Peck) for a married couple (Robert Preston and Joan Bennett), the man being very rich and bringing his wife to Africa in a vain effort to impress on her and save their marriage. Of course it turns the other way around. The film starts with his corpse being carried off an airplane and Gregory escorting a very depressed wife down from it, then concentrating on Gregory to deal with the aftermath of the matter in the shape of hangover thoughts, turning to a long flashback, which is the major part of the film. Was it an accident or was it murder? Neither Joan Bennett nor Gregory Peck can anser that question, which will follow you out.

163


Hunting wild animals, especially when they are of the noble kind like lions, must be perhaps the most despicable sport in the world, especially today, when so many of those finest animals are facing extinction, but this film shows clearly the rotten turpidity and destructive meaninglessness of it as a sport. There is some comfort in that nowadays safari tourists don’t shoot animals except by cameras, but there are still abominable poachers around, that should be shot themselves, everyone of them. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039591/ A Woman’s Vengeance (1947) (10/10) Charles Boyer marrying the wrong woman - twice 23 March 2019

There is always an element of disturbing discomfort in whatever Aldous Huxley wrote, partly because it is always too intelligent to be completely human. He is too advanced for normal human measures and standards. Here that disturbing element is imminent from the beginning, as the leading characters are thoroughly nasty with each other. Charles Boyer, a rich artist who has had everything gratis in life from the beginning, is married to a dying complaining nightmare of a whining wife, who only stays alive because she knows "how happy her husband would be if she died". She is to be pitied most of all, but everyone here is to be pitied, except the doctor, the only quite human character in this sordid business. The nurse is another monster, being all compassionate with the dying wife, expecting an inheritance from her which she never gets, and reporting a murder when her ladyship is dead, accusing the husband, whom she has hated all along. Then there is Jessica Tandy, and it is her film, all lovable sweetness all the way and the bearer of the Giocondan smile, that is the headline of the story. She has loved Charles Boyer for fifteen years without ever being answered, while she is happily unaware that he has another mistress, Ann Blyth as very yong and innocent, playing Doris of eighteen years, whom he marries as soon as the wife is dead. Of course, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. This is a very dark tale of frustrated passions, of high society accomplished people who can't face themselves in the mirror and are blind to their own shortcomings. Charles Boyer commits the mistake of marrying the wrong woman twice, and he has to pay for it, and so must the poor right woman, who is the real tragedy here. The drama couldn't be more eloquent and more tragic in its unnecessary development, where everything goes wrong without having to. Jessica Tandy is the only one who really laughs, but even her laugh is just a mask for something of the most bottomless despair... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040002/?ref_=nv_sr_5

164


Frieda (1947) (10/10) The problem of being a beautiful German girl in England after the war 13 November 2019

This is an amazing psychological drama about a German girl being brought out of the war by an Englishman who eventually marries her, creating great controversy in his small native town, as his elder sister (Flora Robson) is a leading local politician. She is ardently against all things German, consistently denouncing all Germans just because they are Germans, and her case is perhaps the most interesting one in the film , how it develops, and how she finally gets the last word: "You can never treat any human beings as less than human without becoming less than human yourself." It could have been said by Plato. David Farrar is outstanding as usual as the soldier who refuses to give up Frieda, and Man Zetterling, who herself lived in Germany during a period of her life, is absolutely convincing and outstanding in acting this very sensitive part. I was deeply impressed by the depth of the script and the actors' perfect rendering of it in bringing it more than alive, and although the scenery is rather the same all through with no great practical drama, the inner drama is the more vivid, intensive and spiritually dramatic. This was yet another ace among the productions of Basil Dearden. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039398/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Mine Own Executioner (1947) (9/10) A psychological war drama putting everything to a test 15 November 2019

This is a highly delicate psychological drama of a case of schizophrenia which proves too difficult to handle correctly. It is typical of such cases that they are completely unpredictable and can appear as jovial and harmonious as any perfectly healthy person when suddenly something else takes over which is too terrible for words. The director himself had a war background from both world wars and knew what he was directing as he visualized war traumas on film. The war scenes here are just a short parenthesis in the middle of the film and are passed by never to return, but they provide the essential key to the film and its horrible account of a traumatized war victim who never can get rid of his past. The dialogue is splendid and extremely sustained all the way through, and the three ladies also play an important part. Above all, it is Burgess Meredith's film who makes a perfectly convincing realization of a psychiatrist's difficulties when he is faced with an extreme case. As a psychological war drama, it is of the very highest rank and the higher, for showing the war as little as possible. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039627/

165


The Lost Moment (1947) (10/10) Spiritual adventures in different dimensions of time in an enchanted environment in Venice. 9 December 2019

Pardon me for saying so, and it might be taken for an exaggeration, but this is one of the loveliest and most romantic and magic films ever made. Susan Hayward is the dominating character as she has two which are each other's opposites, one callous and rigidly strict in sterile correctness, the other being the ideal idealistic lover. The story by Henry James is added to and developed actually for the better, and the result is one of those unique unsurpassed romantic films of the 40s, very close in character to "The Portrait of Jennie" from the same period. But Susan Hayward is not the only lady. The other you will never recognize, and she is actually the major actor in this film. Agnes Moorehead always made impressing performances, and this could be said to trascend them all. She appears only in a few scenes, but they are the strongest and most shattering in the film. To these two lady characters Robert Cummings is just an accompaniment. I had seen the film before, but now as I saw it again after some years it was a totally new experience - this film is so rich in its details, its different aspects, its fascinating psychology, and a magical story that transcends almost all other romantic films, and you will be glad to return to it now and then. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039583/ Nightbeat (1947) (9/10) Interesting British noir 26 December 2019

Two soldiers coming home from the war both join up in the police force, while the sister of one of them is the other's sweetheart. But during the war that sister (Anne Crawford) has started working with a night club owner and got an apartment from him, and he wants to marry her. Her father is a policeman, and when her soldier friend joins the police force she leaves him to eventually marry the night club owner. Her brother gets sacked from the police and starts working for the night club. Another girl (Christine Norden, a blonde,) gets mixed up with Felix the night club owner, and when he finally marries Anne Crawford, the blonde gets furious. Complications follow and run wild. It's a fascinating story of ex-soldiers finding an ordered existence after the war, one succeeding, the other failing, but eventually after the ultimate complication of a murder they and the sister find each other again. It's not a great film, there are no great film stars, the acting is mediocre, but the story

166


and the intriguing environment with its many plots make ineed the film worth watching. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040642/ The Unconquered (1947) (9/10) Gary Cooper going through great pains to save Paulette Goddard from intolerable injustice 18 January 2020

This is an ideal character for Gary Cooper to play, it suits him perfectly, and he plays it well, with lovely Paulette Goddard to match him as one of those many lovely young women that Cecil B. De Mille loved to give as hard a time as possible by outrageous ordeals and manhandling. Howard da Silva is also perfect as the villain, but as a crook dressed all in sly evil he is a typical Hollywood stereotype, which drags the film down a bit. Its major asset is the magnificent scenery, the splendid costumes, the fantastic wilderness scenes, and the Indians made as savage and impressing as possible, while the best performance by any actor in this film is actually by Boris Karloff as the red Indian chief - it's difficult to recognize him, while his eyes shine thorugh everything. The story is good as well, it's one of those rare films that actually go into the Indian war of the 1760s, where the red Indians under the chief of the Ottawas Pontiac almost actually succeeded in uniting all Indian tribes to overhtrow the white man, and driving him out of every fort west of Pennsylvania except one. Pontiac is never shown in the film, but Boris Karloff is convincing enough. The music by Victor Fleimng also adds quality to the picture, which is great frontier entertainment with a lot of romance and every scene a delight to watch for its brilliant technicolor. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039931/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 The Woman on the Beach (1947) (10/10) Two tragic men with their lives wrecked stuck on a woman 14 February 2020

This is an amazing and unknown film by Jean Renoir which has been unjustly apparently totally forgotten and neglected. It is sticking out as his oddest production, while it was actually his one effort at making a noir. It was so bold in its dramatic scenes of intimacy, that the producers cut out large portions of it, particularly scenes between Joan Bennett and Robert Ryan of sexually too provocative character – that’s why the film is so short. But there is nothing wrong with its intensity, which is breathlessly sustained all the way, it is also Renoir’s most romantic film, with constant presence of the stormy sea amid suggestive coast scenery with an important wreck, and the actors are outstanding, maybe particularly Charles Bickford as the 167


blind painter. He lives on the coast with his wife Joan Bennett when Robert Ryan as a PTSD-suffering officer comes by and complicates relationships. I was seldom so positively surprised by Renoir, I thought I had seen all his films, and here was yet another masterpiece and totally unknown at that. The film is a marvel. The drama is perfect in intensity and human passionate psychology going deep under, although there is no real climax, conclusion or settlement or logical solution, like an episode without end, but very satisfactory all the same, and the music underscores its high romantic character. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040000/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Call Northside 777 (1948) (10/10) A journalist's quest for the truth against a world of odds against him Henry Hathaway was one of the best realists of Hollywood, and here he strikes home with full score. It's the closest he got to a documentary, and it's actually a true story he is telling with all its gripping details and the amazing turn-out. In 1932 the number of homicides in Chicago breaks all records, among the crowds of victims are 8 policemen, and the last of these police murders is the most brutal one, occurring in broad daylight at a public cafÊ, and the two murderers get away with it – you never get a clear view of their faces. Nevertheless, two men are convicted of the murder and sentenced to life on the evidence given by only one eye-witness, the Polish landlady of the cafÊ. 11 years later an odd advertisement in the newspaper offers a reward of $5000 to anyone who finds the real murderer, which catches the eye of an editor (Lee J. Cobb) who sends reporter James Stewart to investigate the announcer, who appears to be an old Polish cleaning-lady, who is mother of the convicted. James Stewart is only out for the story and can't believe anything of it, that the mother has slaved for 11 years to save all this money to offer as an award to have her son exonerated, or that the convicted was innocent. That's how it begins. He delves into the story and has the convict (Richard Conte) tested by a lie detector, which appears to confirm his innocence. There it begins. James Stewart (reporter James McNeal) starts working on an overwhelmingly hopeless case with all possible odds against him, but he never gives up. It's a heroic tale from real life of a journalist's quest for the truth at any cost with the sole possible award tempting him on being his conviction that the truth finally will prevail. Only the realism of the film of all the dungiest parts of immigrant Chicago and other insights behind the hard walls of the city makes it a classic for all times. Alfred Newman's music adds to it, all the actors are perfectly natural and convincing, and

168


Henry Hathaway leads the way with a very safe and calm professionalism, like a hand on a revolver that never can miss. Still there are some question marks. Whatever happened to the other convict? If Frank Wiecek was innocent, what about the other guy? And what about some damages for his 11 years in jail? He did after all have a wife and a son, who hadn't been born yet at the time of the strike of bad luck. You can't doubt his innocence, though, and although James Stewart gets more and more fanatic about it you have to side with him completely. The fact that Frank (a catholic) ordered his wife to find another husband and another father for their son at his imprisonment should have convinced anyone of his innocence from the beginning. Actually, his judge believed him innocent, and the fatality was that he could be sentenced on the testimony of only one (doubtful) eye-witness. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040202/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) (10/10) Burt Lancaster getting into trouble with Barbara Stanwyck, or Barbara Stanwyck getting into trouble with Burt Lancaster? 17 July 2017

This is one of the most brilliant noirs ever made. It's like a mosaic, starting from nowhere, introducing an intriguing mystery, and then piece by piece building up into an intricate but perfect drama in overwhelming impressiveness for its vast web of logic forcing many lives into a tragedy. By accident, Barbara overhears a planned murder on the phone, she is bedridden and can't leave the room, she never leaves it all through the film although she tries to and her husband commands her to, but she is an invalid and helpless, especially as she happens to be alone in the house - her expected husband never comes home. They never communicate in the film except in the final stage, when he reaches her on the phone. Barbara Stanwyck's acting is among her very best, it's almost confined entirely to her increasingly desperate telephone calls and conversations, as she gradually gets more and more into the picture of what is going on, but the main intrigue is entirely her own fault. As a rich daughter she married Burt to keep him chained in her dependence, and naturally he can't be happy with that in the long run but must try alternatives and finds a controversial one, a dangerous business adventure, which goes off all right but naturally runs into trouble, and perhaps the most interesting detail of the film is the case of Waldo Evans, a chemist employed at her father's great enterprise who dreams of settling down in England with horses. What heightens the tension and quality of suspense in the film is very much the camera work, as it constantly moves about, catching details of different homes, it frequently wanders about Barbara's room focusing on significant details, also Mr. Evans' apartment is investigated, and it is as if it went investigating on its own, wondering who is interested in the house, going out on the balcony without her, seeking out the darkness of closets and other hidden possibilities - it's perhaps Anatole Litvak's most masterful output, it has been called better than Hitchcock.

169


Franz Waxman's excellent music does its bit too but stays in the shadow of the plot. The final phone call is devastating, we never see the voice, but the tragedy is complete with a number of victims, the sight and end of which we are mercifully spared, but the more we must think of them afterwards - no one gets out of this alive." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040823/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Esther Waters (1948) (9/10) Dirk Bogarde brilliant as a dashing dandy bookie taking his ladies for a ride... Kathleen Ryan is the poor and innocent young maid who gets the normal treatment of a lady and ends up down to her neck in trouble, and she is illiterate at that, but you can't really dislike him since he plays it so well, and he honestly makes an effort. It all ends up in the great Derby, the festivity crowd scenes are the treat of the film, and they are several, including the great rural party in the beginning. It's a Dickensian story convincing enough in its realism of the 1870s to 80s including a long dying scene, of which Dirk Bogarde was such an expert and made so many of, usually coughing to death, while Kathleen Ryan in spite of her hardships actually gets along quite well, not actually needing the sympathetic support of Cyril Cusack as the would be catcher in the rye. It's a lovely film of a serving maiden's tale and particularly a film for horse lovers – the final race is a killer. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040328/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Blanche Fury (1948) (9/10) Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger victims of very old unsettled family business 17 July 2017

Stewart Granger was never satisfied with his parts, he felt like always having to play superficial stereotypical rogues or heroes with nothing in them but some dashing presence, but all his appearances are excellent and surprisingly reliable for being so 'superficial', and he is always better than he thought himself. Valerie Hobson, on the other hand, was never better and more beautiful than here. It's her film, and she fills it up to the brim with striking beauty and a character of constantly increasing interest as she develops, a brave woman of much hardship behind her and even more expecting her. It's a dramatic story of passion and forbidden love, social injustice and family feuds with a curse since 700 years to top it all, and it takes a very surprising turning as the plot thickens and suddenly jumps into a precarious course of no return. Staffordshire is in the midlands between Birmingham and Liverpool, and the whole setting is in the rural part with soft hills and plains and deals a lot with horses – some of the tragedies here involve horses.

170


It's an efficient drama of love and destiny and how little man or woman can control it, but it is Valerie Hobson you always will remember from this film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039195/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Night has a Thousand Eyes (1948) (9/10) Edward G. Robinson in perhaps his most interesting and personal performance as a victim of his own second sight 13 December 2016 This is paranormal, paraphysical and parapsychological but extremely well written, and Edward G. Robinson makes one of his most memorable performances as a con man discovering to his dismay that he actually has real powers to foresee events and tries to escape his own destiny of getting involved in them. It's a very moral tale about the vanity and impossibility of even trying to avoid your destiny, but Robinson makes a heroic effort, actually trying to save the lives of others by using his second sight to fool destiny, but he gets fooled by it instead. It's very tragic, but the tragedy is hidden, you never see a drop of blood or any corpses although there are a number of casualties in the process, but still the end comes as a surprising shock to everyone including the ultimate victim. This is a film that has to be seen more than once in order to get clear about all the details, which must seem about too much and somewhat confusing the first time – you tend to be as incredulous as John Lund. Robinson is always interesting, all his films are worth seeing and again, but here he somewhat expresses something of the core of his own kismet – he had some troubles himself with his fate. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040643/?ref_=nv_sr_1 London Belongs to Me (1948) (8/10) Heart-warming interior from old London 15 February 2015

It's all about a house and its tenants of very variable kinds, the last one moving in being a confused spiritualist somehow falling out of everything (Alastair Sim in an unforgettable character, later copied by Alec Guinness in "Ladykillers"), while the main character is Richard Attenborough as a young irresponsible luck-seeker without any luck, courting the daughter of the house while his former mistress won't leave him alone, which leads to the tragedy. The house becomes a web of intrigue and complications, the different destinies interlacing each other, leading to confusions and further tragedies – Alastair Sim is really the unluckiest of them all. A fabulous gallery of colorful actors, Stephen Murray and a young Hugh Griffith making a surprise entrance towards the end is just two of them, the idyll develops into a spectacular drama finally involving all London. It's a wonderful story with great warmth and empathy with its characters, almost like a documentary.

171


Unfortunately I haven't read the novel, which should be even better. This is a must see for grass-root people, environmentalists, humanitarians and all defenders of the small people of narrow circumstances and humble conditions, making out the great majority of the ordinary harmless core of humanity. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040548/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Miracle of the Bells (1948) (10/10) Alida Valli gets the opportunity to play Joan of Arc with unexpected consequences. 6 August 2015

This is an impressing story that gets constantly more interesting as it develops. It starts in mild sadness as Fred McMurray comes to a rather sordid and backward Coal Town with a coffin in order to bury it there, as that apparently was the last wish of the deceased. In flashbacks her story is gradually revealed, and as the tragedy unfolds of a film star who got the chance of her life to make Joan of Arc to only die for it, the additional plots start to gather, involving tremendous complications piling up at Coal Town, where Frank Sinatra as a poorer parish priest gradually starts to play a part – he even gets the opportunity to sing a song. Well, the plot thickens and gathers momentum and grows to affect the whole of the United States, as also Lee J. Cobb as Fred's producer reluctantly is involved. The amazing phenomenon of the film is how it gradually develops into something of a cathedral in structure involving many people and many plots and subplots, and there is no surprise anywhere, not even any real miracle, everything is logic and natural and can be explained, as even Frank Sinatra honestly enough stands up to the naked truth, and still there is something of a miracle about it all, as all these people without any intention of their own get included in the fabric of destiny as it weaves its web around them all, finally even bringing Lee J. Cobb to his knees. It's an amazing film and story in all its simplicity and very touching basic humanity – the scene in the Chinese restaurant is my favorite and a marvel of humanity in itself. This is no legend, and there is nothing supernatural about anything here, but it's simply a very human story presenting the magic of life as it could happen anywhere and fill everyone with wonder in the pure incredibility of reality. This is a film to discover, enjoy – and love. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040594/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill (1948) (9/10) Rivalry between school teachers all the way to the bitter end 22 March 2017

172


Most school films are usually most interesting because of unavoidable intrigues and complications with the constant presence of a variety of beautiful wives at risk and mischievous but innocent children, that more often than not succeed in making things worse without intending it. This is certainly no exception. Mr Perrin has been 21 years with the school and is one day suddenly challenged by a new master who has everything he lacks: an easy way with children earning him immediate sympathy and popularity, success with women, good looks and admirable sportsmanship. Mr Perrin's nickname is 'Pompo', which unfortunately he deserves. Marius Goring makes an unforgettable character out of him, living alone with his mother, being awkward with women for his shyness and getting harassed by the awful headmaster, who drives the whole school crazy by nasty covert means. Conflicts are inevitable and start with petty quarrels about bath-tubs, umbrellas and things like that but are gradually exacerbated to a horrendous degree. Whatever will come out of this towering trivial storm? It's impossible to guess, but in the end you risk having your eyes staring and starting out of their sockets. David Farrar is the younger handsome teacher in a typical part of his, he is also drinking here like in most of his films, and although it's unnecessary of him to worsen the conflict you have to agree that he just can't help it. It's a tremendous film of a storm in a teacup, but it's amazing how such an idyll of a teacup can produce such a storm... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040615/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Ruthless (1948) (9/10) A morality play about the vanity and emptiness and failure of success when it is not founded on human values 21 October 2016

Interesting study in the way of life of living only for worldly success and money. Zachary Scott makes the tycoon who from a humble start builds an empire but at the cost of everything human on the way. He simply refuses to take any no or objection to his ambitions seriously but grabs everything he fancies for his own and gets it – until there is Sydney Greenstreet, who turns the film into a very interesting drama, the finale towering into a frantic settlement with the inhumanity of ruthlessness. Among the others Lucille Bremer as Christa makes an intelligent impression, and Louis Hayward as the friend who sees Zachary through and tries to follow but fails to save him, makes a credible enough figure of a real best friend who fails for no fault of his, while Diana Lynn as Martha and Mallory becomes something of an enigma – it's actually she who brings Vendig's ruin but unintentionally, as her only power over him is that she resembles his first love, whom he deserted – it's not her fault. It's a very interesting story of opportunism, but like in so many of Ulmer's always most interesting films, the characters never really come alive. The acting is too stiff, and they act more like dummies than like live people, like statues in a grown up puppet play. Nevertheless, the film is still very much worth seeing for its message and lesson, as a morality of considerable weight, as people of this kind dominate and rule the world still today and make a mess of it.

173


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040751/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Casbah (1948) (8/10) Successful remake of Duvivier's "Pepé le Moko" but not quite striking home It is not a bad remake of Julien Duvivier's classic and incomparable "Pepé le Moko" with Jean Gabin from 1937 with even some advantages to the French original, chiefly Marta Toren as the beautiful lady from abroad and home and Peter Lorre as the police inspector in one of his most suavely amiable and abominable performances; but the songs are quite good also and Tony Martin, although inferior to Jean Gabin, is convincing and charming enough. Another asset is Yvonne de Carlo as Inez, and like in "Pepé le Moko" you wonder why he doesn't prefer her to the alien lady as a much more rational and sensible option; but it's in his nature to choose challenge to comfort. There is very little to add, if you have seen "Pepé le Moko" you have seen it all, the drama is exactly the same here with its regrettable and overwhelmingly sad finale, but Julien Duvivier makes it both more realistic, more poetic and more overwhelming. What Tony Martin lacks is the tragic touch of Jean Gabin with his poignant stigma. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040214/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Escape (1948) (10/10) Rex Harrison as war hero and martyr to injustice but not without some recompense 30 July 2017

A dark story of injustice, charting the hopelessness of a fugitive not from justice but from the law, which has failed in giving justice. Rex Harrison is a former war hero who defends a defenseless girl in a park and accidentally gets into more trouble than he bargained for, with fatal consequences, for a villain who deserved it, and for himself, who has to survive it. It's a great story by John Galsworthy with many instructive insights on the way. It's kind of an exploration of the problems of injustice. Anyway, risking his life and prolonged sentence by escaping, he does win something on the way, which he wouldn't if he hadn't risked everything for freedom. Joseph Mankiewicz' direction displays all the literary deserts of the story and communicates it well with clarity and detached poignancy. It's a small film but the greater for its spartan concentration, containing much more than what any film can show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040325/?ref_=nv_sr_1

174


So Well Remembered (1948) (9/10) Ladies and babies, slums and factories, alcoholics and war invalids, from a gentlemanly view of James Hilton. 8 August 2017

This is an oddity among James Hilton's novels, the closest he got to a social and Dickensian novel with perhaps the only crook he ever produced, and she is more stealthily disguised as such than any villain in Shakespeare or Dickens. This is a psychological drama charting the psyche of a very dangerous woman – she is born rich and powerful and can never do without that as a kind of birthright, and when she is thwarted she is destroyed. Until she is thwarted she destroys all her men including her children. This is a thriller in disguise. James Hilton was the most gentlemanly author in England's 20'th century together with John Galsworthy, and also this Bleak House drama is told very suavely with a gentleman's kind politeness all the way. You have to love Olivia Channing as much as John Mills does, until he has to face the facts when almost everything is too late. To see this novel realized on screen I experienced as a miracle. I knew it existed and searched for it for years, and suddenly it was there - with even James Hilton himself as speaker, with his gentle and perfectly clear Cambridge diction. I always enjoyed James Hilton almost more than any other English author of that century for his always musical language, which even that is fully realized in the film. A few years later Edward Dmytryk, exiled from Hollywood, made his masterpiece "Give Us This Day" about Italian immigrant workers in New York 1929 completely filmed in London (with New York recreated in studios), another important milestone of social realism (see my review). This is less dramatic and pathetic and tells a less upsetting story but is instead more convincing. Trevor Howard had just made his "Brief Encounter" perfect gentleman of a doctor, while he here is hard on the bottle from the beginning to end, although John Mills after twenty years only has to carry him home from the pub twice a week. Martha Scott finally is perfect as Olivia, beautiful, charming and mysterious, giving from the beginning quite a good impression of herself as a beauty of mysteries that could be dangerous not only for your peace of mind. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039842/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Johnny Belinda (1948) (10/10) "It is hard to get born, and it is hard to die."

175


1 December 2017

This is to some great degree a Scottish film, since most of the characters have Scottish names and even speak with a Scottish accent, and the location is Nova Scotia in Canada. Also the general mentality is more Scottish than anything else, and the environment could have been the Hebrides in the closeness of the ever present threats of the sea and the vast almost desolate grounds of the wild flat islands. But that is just the frame of the drama. Many films have been made on the subject of the hardships of gravely handicapped or invalid people, preferably girls, like Arthur Penn's "The Miracle Worker" 1962, the film with Louis Jouvet on AndrĂŠ Gide's best novel "The Pastoral Symphony", Siodmak's "The Spiral Staircase", "Mandy", "David and Lisa" - the list is endless, and it is practically without exceptions in the fathomless interest and high quality treatment of human vulnerability and sensitivity. Jean Negulesco's screening of "Johnny Belinda" is one of the very best examples. There was a flood of Oscar nominations in 1948, but I don't think anyone would have disagreed with awarding that year's Oscar to Jane Wyman and the best film of the year. It is so startlingly real and convincing all the way, the realism is total, and the drama couldn't be more gripping. A deaf and mute girl gets raped by a bully and gets pregnant by the way as the worst possible complication for a case like hers in a small village of provincial prejudice and gossips. Fortunately there is a gentleman doctor at hand, who with delicate diplomacy gets the better of the situation. Lew Ayres didn't make many pictures, and he is almost only remembered for this one and "The Dark Mirror" two years previously with Olivia de Havilland as twin sisters, one of them psychotic, another tricky situation. Lew Ayres is such a winning and sympathetic character, that he could well have made another Ronald Colman, but these two great noir pictures he made was quite enough to establish his reputation for good. Charles Bickford as the farmer and Agnes Moorehead as his wife add to the poignancy of the drama, both play characters with limitations, which serve only to enhance the power of their performance. Also the other villagers are quite convincing and real, and there is much in this film reminding of the Norwegian war drama "The Edge of Darkness" with Errol Flynn as another fisherman, although that's a completely different story, but the environment and mentality are the same. In brief, this is a timeless drama of incapacity and weakness and the struggle to overcome the complications therein. Jean Negulesco directed many outstanding films, but this was maybe the very best one. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040495/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Women in the Night (1948) (7/10)

176


German officers in Shanghai try to survive the fall of Germany and Japan, but their abducted women complicate matters. 2 January 2018

Everything is lousy about this production except the story. The direction is despicable, the actors can't act, the result of the editing is a mutilation, and the happy ending is a joke. However, most of the ladies are quite good and convincing enough, and it's their film. It's their story this film is here to tell, and it's a great story involving many stories. Not only are several of these girls brave freedom fighters who don't hesitate to wage their lives when there is no other choice, but there are a number of great tragedies hinted by their stories, the most important of which is the mother who finds her daughter. Forget about the Japanese and German officers, they are all caricatures, and you can see that the actors themselves don't believe in the almost ludicrous roles they are playing. This is a women's drama, and that's all that matters. Also the music is very well made and gives at least a gilded frame to something that could have been an engaging masterpiece, if the direction and the male actors had been better. The fact is, that there were rests of German officer cliques stranded in China (here Shanghai) and elsewhere after the surrender of Germany and before the Japanese final surrender who still believed in their absurd Reich, many escaped alive out of Germany and immediately started planning for the next Reich, - of course, they did not succeed, as they also fail in this film, but their plans and visions were enough alive to keep cliques like this active to the last. Pity that such a good story should be made such a bad film of, but then at least you can take care of and mind what's memorable in it, and it is never wrong to point out the women's cause. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040003/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Woman in White (1948) (8/10)

Two ladies lost in darkness at the mercy of wicked intrigue by Sidney Greenstreet. 8 January 2018

Although none of the screenings of this famous thriller novel for television or for film have been too faithful to the novel, which is actually related in different versions by the characters themselves, which makes it very complicated and sophisticated, it's impossible to make a bad screening of it, no matter how much you shorten it. This is the most shortened version of all, while the 1982 version is the most faithful and best. However, none of the other Foscos are so true to the original character as Sidney Greenstreet here, who awesomely dominates the film. Eleanor Parker is excellent in her double role as both Laura and Anne Catherick, but she is a bit too beautiful for 177


Laura, while her rendering of Anne Catherick is better - they actually become like one in the end. Alexis Smith plays with style as usual, and it's impossible for any actress to fail with a character like Marion Halcombe. The Sir Percy Glyde dandy figure is also good but is whisked away in this rather mutilated version. Gig Young as Walter is the only one who does not quite fit in. Other excellent merits of this film is the marvellous score of Max Steiner with harp for the dominating instrument - none of the other versions make a success of the music. The black and white photography also adds to the eerie and moody blues of this horror story of wicked intrigue, and although the finale of the novel is ignored here, Agnes Moorehead as the countess Fosco instead gets something to do - here she is made to combine both the countess and Mrs Catherick in the novel. So although much of the novel, and especially its highlights, are lost in this film, it definitely has deserts enough to vie with the other later versions in colour, which have other advantages over this one. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040974/?ref_=nv_sr_3 All My Sons (1948) (10/10) Clearcut masterpiece of Arthur Miller's greatest play 4 March 2018

Edward G. Robinson on the top of his career and Burt Lancaster in the beginning of his as his son must turn into something absolutely special, and it does, with a vengeance. To this comes the very ingenious composition of the play. It's impossible to guess anything of what is going on in the beginning, as all you get glimpses of to begin with is some relationship problems. Gradually the war gets involved, and then the trauma starts building up. Larry has not returned from ther war, and his mother is still expecting him every day. His girlfriend Ann is coming for a visit, and Larry's brother Burt Lancaster wants to marry her, certain that Larry never will come back. Both his parents advise against it, but she is willing, and Burt is difficult to turn off. Other relatives turn up, especially young families, and then there is some problem about Ann's brother and their father, who is in jail. Gradually it dawns on the audience that Burt's father got him there and that there still is some unfinished business around somewhere. This is just some contours of the very complicated mess of family intrigue, which constantly turns more complex and difficult to cope with, as also the other father in prison finally gets an important part in the play. This could be the greatest of American family dramas. Arthur Miller would never succeed in writing anything like it, and his following plays are shadows of it. The actors are all at their best and make the drama truly a Greek tragedy widely transcending anything Eugene O'Neill has written. Tennessee Williams would find a more stable standard though than Miller in keeping up a high level of drama in many plays. 178


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040087/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Sleep, My Love (1948) (9/10) The nightmares of a somnambulist 16 March 2018

The interesting thing about this film is that you as the audience get to experience the anguish, horror and despair of a somnambulist who can't control her state. Of course, things don't get better by others taking advantage of her vulnerability, while the painfulness of the situation is brought to extremes by her never seeing through the manipulations of the intrigue-makers around her. Mark the photographer well (George Coulouris), His small part is the most important in the film, as everything depends on his actions. Claudette Colbert enacts the victim with acute excellence, making the horror of her state and situation really convincing, credible and realistic. Robert Cummings always brings a relief. He always makes such characters. Douglas Sirk made his best films in the 40s sticking to the noirs, while in the 50s with the advent of colour he grew more sentimental and syrupy with a penchant for schmalz, but in the 40s he was one of the best. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040798/ Close-Up (1948) (9/10) It’s not a very good idea to film a wanted Nazi coming out of a bank. 25 March 2018

I love this film. It's so full of surprising turnings and brilliant innovations that you actually must enjoy being taken for a ride. The story in itself is ingenious, by accident an ordinary news reel camera man gets someone like Martin Bormann into the picture, and naturally those Nazis having just come out of the bank after some major transactions want to get hold of that film as a matter of life and death.. What follows is a tumultuous roller-coaster of a hunt for the negative, which involves no end to confusions, and naturally there is a double-crossing dame involved also, and the poor journalist in all his innocence has every reason to get mad. Fortunately he has a cheerful assistant who always manages to keep him happy after all. There are some striking shots on the way that Hitchcock would have enjoyed, and of course some major close-ups. This is one of those films that in all their confusing up and down turnings leaving you more bewildered than the hero. you must look forward to seeing it some time again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040237/

179


Walk a Crooked Mile (1948) (10/10) Atomic spies 1948 almost getting away with it 3 May 2018

This is one of the best espionage films ever made, for being so perfectly clever, realistic and actual in its day for the crisis of atomic secrets being smuggled to the Soviet Union, which really set the cold war off. Advanced nuclear technology is being smuggled out out from an extremely well guarded and sealed up atomic research centre, and it's impossible to understand how this is done. Five top scientists are the only ones privy to what is going on, and one of them is a traitor. Two of them are lovers, as one of them is a very beautiful woman. Raymond Burr is the very subtle villain here, he appears from the start and leads the way to the crisis and the ultimate meltdown, but the development to that climax is very careful and slow. As Dennis O'Keefe as the leading FBI investigator can't make head or tails of it on his own, a Scotland Yard agent is imported (Louis Hayward, always dashing,) and with his help they gradually approach the mystery. He even takes a job as a laundry worker to help things out, which nonetheless leads to serious trouble. It's a subtle thriller, and the final solution to the mystery couldn't have been more cleverly contrived, while the developed crisis on the way is no easy ordeal. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040947/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_38 Pitfall (1948) (10/10) An insurance agent getting into trouble with a woman too beautiful for her own good 27 June 2018

Dick Powell is surprisingly cool and restrained throughout the film, and his latent force only breaks out once in something of a parenthesis. Lizabeth Scott was never lovelier and more suave, and she does not need much acting to be convincing enough just by being. Jane Wyatt is also perfect as the mother and wife who is kept in the dark of what is going on as far as possible, until she also has to have a break; but the main character here is Raymond Burr, later Perry Mason, who is perfectly abominable. Although he does as little as possible and only acts by clandestine deliberate intrigue, he dominates the film and action, and you fear him when he does not appear, just as Lizabeth Scott does - you must feel like her, and you must sympathize with her, especially in the end. She is the real victim, while Dick Powell will have a hard time living with it, just as the inspector points out.

180


To this comes the uncredited music by Louis Forbes, a haunting tune almost as possessive as the theme in "Laura", and it fills the screen from the beginning and resounds until the end. The direction by AndrĂŠ de Toth is perhaps the best in his career, he later specialized in horror pictures, like the original "House of Wax"; but best of all is the flippant dialogue, enjoyable throughout. Once again it seems, that you can't make a bad film on a good script. On the contrary, once the script is good, it tends to inspire the film to even higher quality. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040695/?ref_=ur_urv Raw Deal (1948) (10/10) A convict escaping with two women meets with unexpected complications 5 July 2018

Dennis O'Keefe is perfect in this very dark drama of a hopeless escape of a convict into a sea of trouble in which he can only get drowned, in spite of being assisted by two women at the same time. They appear from the very beginning and immediately embark on a quiet cold war between themselves to get him in the end, and the question is who is the real winner. As a relationship drama it is of immense human interest, and the ladies' manoeuvres are sustained in their fascinating innovations throughout to the bitter end. To this comes the outstanding eerie music by Paul Sawtell, the splendid direction by Anthony Mann leaving no second without suspense and the additional acting by the scoundrels John Ireland and Raymond Burr. The latter made quite a number of awesome monster bandits before he became Perry Mason. Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt are both excellent enough, and you understand too well Dennis' constantly shifting feelings for them both. Anthony Mann in his younger years made a string of extremely efficient dark movies, and this is one of the darkest and most efficient. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040723/ The Amazing Mr X (1948) (10/10) Two sisters at the mercy of a dead husband and his accomplice 16 July 2018

What strikes you from the start in this film is its very romantic character, immediately introducing Chopin's most mesmerizing prelude (which is used throughout the film) accompanying a lady wandering about the rocky shore of a stormy sea, when her deceased husband seems to call on her from the roaring surf. Could a film have a more romantic start?

181


However, the story develops and invites you on constantly more surprising turns, as gradually more characters appear to complicate the story: her sister, her wooer (a lawyer) and then the mysterious Mr. Alexis, who turns up from nowhere and seems to know everything about her. But the main thing about the film is its spellbinding cinematography. The photo here is simply terrific the whole way, and you feel tempted to stay with many of the pictures just to look further and deeper into them. It is supposed to be a B feature, but it is actually class A, and although the actors are no film stars of the highest rank, they are quite convincing enough. It's an ingenious plot exploiting all the tricks of occultism and actually touching on metaphysics, just to turn to the dire realism of a very sinister thriller. When the first gun is pulled, you know the romantic game is over. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040829/ Whiplash (1948) (9/10) The pathetic efforts of an invalidated boxer not to leave the ring 24 July 2018

The most interesting character here is Zachary Scott as Rex Durant, an ex-boxer in a wheel-chair whose passion for boxing only seems to have grown the worse for his invalidity. Alexis Smith, beautiful, stylish and impressing as ever, is here a mysterious lady with a secret who gets involved with Dane Clark only to suddenly desert him. She has a brother, JeffreĂ˝ Lynn, who is a drunkard and a doctor and practising. Like in all noirs, there is a fashionable night club, where Alexis Smith sings and where things happen involving hoodlums. The painter Michael Angelo was a part actually written for John Garfield, but he left before the film could be shot. Dane Clark is not bad, but he is a bit short for Alexis Smith, who is a bit tall. The story is good, and all the questinoable pieces fall into place towards the end, when the dyspeptic doctor at last decides to do something about a very troublesome situation involving them all. We never learn what happened to the hoodlums. In spite of the lack of John Garfield, it's an excellent movie, I found nothing wrong with it, but the eyes of Zachary Scott is what will stick in your mind. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040963/ Kiss the Blood off my Hands (1948) (10/10) Wrecks from the war making more shipwrecks 24 August 2018

182


One of those supreme noirs replenished with all the obligatory ingredients - a man lost in society and almost outlawed at the mercy of his relentless fate, the tenderhearted woman who just can't help helping him although she knows it's against all common sense, and a particularly diabolical "helper" doing his best to drag Burt further down the gutter of criminality with more consequences than he bargained for. It's a very dark film, the dominating element is the London fog illustrating the sword of Damocles hanging over Burt by actually covering almost every street scene in an ominous haze, which makes the cinematography the more suggestive and moody. Miklos Rosza's music makes the drama complete. We don't know how it will end, like so many of Carol Reed's best thrillers we are left with unanswerable questions, and this film reminds very much of "Odd Man Out" it's the same kind of hopelessness, the same entrapment, the same despair, while only Joan Fontaine makes a difference - she is not like Kathleen Ryan. It's a fascinating film for its denseness of intrigue with an action constantly tying itself up in more and harder knots, and no wonder almost everyone gets confused, which also the audience must be, with almost an obligation to have it all taken over from the beginning... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040512/?ref_=ur_urv Daughter of Darkness (1948) (9/10) Spooky organ music played at night in church and an implacable howling dog in a young girl's tragedy 21 October 2018

This is a very remarkable film on a very remarkable story. There is probably some true background of its origin, because it is too realistic, both psychologically and in its characterizations not to have been founded on some truth. There is nothing wrong with Amy, and still everyone turns against her, only because she makes people feel uncomfortable, and able-bodied men are attracted to her with such a force that they cannot control it. Where does it all go wrong? It all goes wrong from the beginning, when the priest listens to the gossip of old spinsters and submits to their fanatical demand to have her thrown out of the community. He gets her a position on a farm in England by the coast for a compensation, but as the young men there are attracted to her, the women turn against her also there. A gipsy of a fair that saved her from some trouble in Ireland and then could not leave her in peace, turns up again at her farm in England, repeats his mistake and gets what he asked for, although he was well warned once. And thus the vicious circle begins. Siobhan McKenna makes an unforgettable characterization of a one-sidedly lovable sweet girl who unwillingly becomes the cause of harm done on an accelerating scale, and although the terror increases you must sympathize with her and defend her against all the world. It's they who go out of control, while she only plays the organ and desperately seeks to judst be left alone in peace, which no one will leave her. It's perhaps the anatomy of a witch, a destiny which is rather forced upon her than that

183


she chooses it herself. The story is very dramatic, the plot thickening all the time, and the cinematography is on a virtuoso level, like the direction. Lance Comfort made quite a few films like this, and they are all remarkable and memorable. To all this comes William Alwyn's alwaysperfectly fitting, impressing and suggestive music. I felt tempted to almost give it a full 10 points. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040273/?ref_=ur_urv The Corridor of Mirrors (1948) (10/10) A magic labyrinth of mystery, intrigue, tragedy, splendour and death 1 November 2018

This is a miracle of a film using all the means of magic that were available at the time - it is actually comparable with Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" as there are palpable undeniable parallels. Orson Welles said himself that he started off with one good film and then worked himself down. Terence Young was not a British Orson Welles, rather a dwarf in comparison, but he was an outstanding script writer ("Dangerous Moonlight"), and when he was allowed to direct his first film he reached a level which he was never to reach again. What are all the entertainment tricks of "Doctor No" and "From Russia with Love", what is the romanticism of "Mayerling", what is the intelligence of "Triple Cross" in comparison with the amazing murder intrigue here and the overwhelmingly brilliant use of mirrors, dresses, surroundings, taking in all Venice, in this supremely romantic story of unrequited love, sharpened by madness, metaphysics, transcendental sentimentality, and an intrigue ending up in constantly overlapping surprises. For once Eric Portman has an interestingly sympathtic role to play, a bit of Hamlet and Byron darkness and doom indeed, but on the whole better than expected. Edana Romney is not as bad as some watchers have concluded, she makes you think of both Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh, the latter would have been slightly better, but Edana Romney does not overdo it, although she is given ample breadth indeed. This is definitely a film to return to many times. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040246/ Man on the Run (1948) (9/10) London after the war with the social problem of 20,ooo loose deserters, many of them criminal and on the run 23 November 2018

What you will remember of this film is the local atmosphere from the post war London with its rather weary aspect both in people and their minds and the shaggy

184


streets, ultimately leading you down to old Wapping with one of the most genuine pub atmospheres found in any film, but there is a long way to go before that. You will also remember the difficult case of 20,000 deserters after the war, many of them turning to criminality for having no other choice. That's the clinch in which our hero finds himself, when a burglary takes place the moment he is trying to pawn his old gun without bullets, the two robbers in desperation shooting both the clerk and, when on the run, a policeman fatally - the first casualty in the film. The clerk recovers and gives a description of our hero, whom he saw, while the two burglars were masked. So our hero finds himself wanted for murder. Could you get into any deeper sea of trouble? It's also memorable for the fine performance by Joan Hopkins, who plays a widow who believes in our hero's innocence, Kenneth More has a small part in the beginning, which turns out fatal for our hero on a constant run, and Laurence Harvey is a policeman - neither is sympathetic. Derek Farr plays our hero convincingly enough, a completely ordinary man with an inordinate amount of bad luck, having lost practically all his family in the war. It's a sad story but well made, and the beautiful music adds some extra romantic and melancholy charm to it. In spite of the poor technical quality, I must give it almost a full score for its interesting story of an eloquent script, fluent tempo and excellent cinematography. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040566/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_66 Homecoming (1948) (10/10) Ordeals of war and malaria with nurse Snapshot and colonel Useless. 2 December 2018

The great surprise with this film was to find Lana Turner totally different from all impressions you ever had of her and so much better. She actually makes the film, and every scene with her is golden cinematic sunshine and top film acting because of her. Clark Gable is always good, perhaps the most reliably excellent actor Hollywood ever had, and although he is on top also here, Lana outshines him. Anne Baxter was never lovelier, in the beginning, but she hopelessly falls in the shadow of Lana, and is well aware of it. Another surprise was John Hodiak as the friend and fellow doctor acting as something of a startling conscience but acting it without any effort, as a doctor should react absolutely frankly and matter-of-fact. Gladys Cooper also does a good job as usual as one of her many mothers, while you'll never recognize Cameron Mitchell here as a very young boy. The artistic excellence of unity permeates the film and fills it with warm humanity from beginning to end. Much of the credit for this seething warmth of human atmosphere and candid heartfiulness comes from the exquisitely discreet but nonetheless overwhelmingly beautiful musical score by Bronislau Kaper - I never saw that name before, while at the same time Mervyn LeRoy's masterhand at the direction is felt comfortably all the way. All this ends up to a top score of ten unhesitatingly. It could very well be both Clark Gable's and Lana Turner's best film.

185


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040446/ Madonna of the Desert (1948) (9/10) Madonnas getting mixed up in the desert 15 December 2018

I loved this kind of morality which comes off with all its interesting turns quite naturally, as Lynne Roberts, dashingly beautiful, changes from a gangster bride to a madonna of the desert. It's all about a small statue, originally from Spain in the 1500s, which found its way to South America, where it ends up in a house in the Arizona desert with a war veteran and his old man, where it becomes attractive to collectors. One of them is a hoodlum and a swindler and will obtain it by any means, which is why he sends out Lynne Roberts for her. A copy is manufactured to arrange a switch, but the switch does not come off without complications, and of course they get mixed up. Even the small madonna herself starts a drama complicating things, and everything runs out of control for everybody. Lynne Roberts succeeds ultimately in landing on her feet, and the whole mess reaches a very satisfactory end, in spite of all the shootings, car accidents, fires, and so on. It's a gem of a small but very educating film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040561/ My Brother Jonathan (1948) (10/10) Chronicle of a family bravely facing constant setbacks with a cheer 10 January 2019

Jonathan Dakers is an aged doctor in the black coal district of the Midlands looking back on his life with many pleasant memories. He and his brother Harold were the sons of a would be poet, who left his family in a traffic accident all but ruined. Jonathan could have become a surgeon but was obliged to take on an ordinary practice in the slums, where he gets into a permanent conflict with a corrupt senior physician who controls the local hospital. The brothers love the same woman, but Jonathan, who is the first to court and love her, constantly has to put off their engagement for the sake of his plight, while his brother takes care of her instead and makes her pregnant before joining the war in 1914, where he falls in battle. Jonathan marries her to save her from dishonour, but she dies in childbirth, he takes care of his brother’s son as if it was his own and marries the daughter of his mentor. The son is never told that his parents are not his real parents, until he decides not to follow his father to become a doctor like him but to instead join the war in 1939. That’s where the film starts. So ”My Brother Jonathan” is really the fallen brother’s story and view of his brother the doctor, who is eloquently played by Michael Denison in a sustained and gripping 186


performance throughout the film. It has been called Dickensian, and there is indeed a touch of the warm humanity of Dickens colouring this exquisite masterpiece, perhaps the best of all doctor’s films, but it also reminds you of A.J.Cronin’s many medical novels and is strongly akin to James Hilton’s ”So Well Remembered” with Trevor Howard as the alcoholic doctor in the same coal district who is always right in his sometimes fatal diagnoses. This film is less dramatic, there is no evil here and no looming tragedy, but it is so much more sincere and appealing in its humanity, sustained throughout by Michael Denison’s wholly convincing impersonation of this infinitely sympathetic character of a 7 February 2019doctor meeting with constant adversity and hardship by disasters, but who never lets go of his patience nor of his good humour. This is almost a film to adore. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040623/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Inner Sanctum (1948) (8/10) The inevitability and mystery of destiny 23 January 2019

This is a parallel film to the very remarkable and ingenious ”Detour” some year earlier, the same kind of crabbed story condensed and intensified by the small scale format of limited time, but the music is missing here. Instead there is a metaphysical dimension: the film starts in a train, an elderly gentleman studies a fellow passenger of considerable beauty, a young lady like almost Hedy Lamarr, and finally he decides to tell her a story. The object of the story is to sincerely warn her from getting off at the next station, while her spontaneous answer is that she never heeded warnings. He then tells the story of someone who did not heed his warning and got off when she shouldn’t have. There the film begins, and after the story the film returns to the old man and his lovely passenger, whereupon she gets off at the next station, which of course she shouldn’t have done, but there is a specatacular twist to the whole thing. All actors are relatively unknown, it’s a B-film but very remarkable as such for its very good acting, including all the family involved and the local editor, with whom the male protagonist gets a ride in to town in the beginning. It’s a subtle web of destiny where all coincidences weave into each other to result in a stunning story. ”Detour” is even better and more fascinating, but this is a very close relation. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040472/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Bicycle Thieves (1948) (10/10)

A man’s hopeless chase for his stolen bicycle vital for his family’s livelihood 7 February 2019

187


This is the prime classic of Italian neorealism, and no matter how many times you watch it, you will always find new elements in it to surprise you, especially since it is so much more than just a social-realistic document. It is in fact a Kafka situation. Francesco Ricci gets a job for which he must have a bicycle, his bicycle is pawned, so his wife has to pawn all their sheets (6) to get money to get out the bicycle. One of the most impressing scenes in the film is about these sheets: the six sheets are bundled up in a parcel which is stored together with other parcels of sheets, but the shelves of these stored parcels stretch higher and higher, and her sheets have to be placed on top, for which the clerk must climb a ladder of considerable height – you get the impression of her sheets geeting lost in a crowd of other pawned sheets, and that’s also what the main characters are doing in this film – they get lost in an unfathomable Kafka process of hopelessness and impossibilities. Vittorio de Sica was perhaps the most human of all cinema directors, in every film he focuses on humanity, the human factor and its problems with a world of inhumanity, and this tendency is especially clear in this film, where the centre of attention is on the small boy, who without being the leading character nevertheless is the chief communicator of this film’s message – a maze of destiny with no way out, marked by a constantly increasing degree of tragedy and despair. The film answers no questions, there is no end and least of all any solution to the problem, it just leads you there and shows the case and leaves to the audience to remain upset forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040522/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Cry for the City (1948)

Grim gutter drama of Italian backyard New York 24 February 2019

This is a classic noir sticking closely to the gutter reality of Italian gangsters’ environment in New York with dirty streets and dirty buildings and very dark nocturnal settings. It couldn’t be better. Richard Crenna is taken into a hopsital severly wounded by gunshots, you learn that he has killed a policeman in self defence and has nothing less than the electric chair to expect for himself, while there is still a lawyer who thinks he can trick him out of a death sentence – against compensations, of course. The problem is that many girls and ladies have attachments to Richard Crenna, the perfect gangster womanizer, as it proves. The policeman having to hunt him down and settle with him to the last drop of iniquity is Victor Mature, and they make a perfect couple for a film like this. You soon forget all about the other ladies, even the young Shelley Winters is one of them and makes an impression, but it is a grim drama which ends much worse than you could ever suspect. At the same time it is one of those very rare and very convincing almost documentary noirs that will stick in your mind forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040257/

188


The Walls of Jericho (1948) (9/10) “Why should any man ever marry a woman?� 14 March 2019

This is a very local soap opera in a small town in the midwest where everyone knows everybody and boredom is escaped by garden parties and rural balls with pianolas, while there is some trouble brewing under the surface. The county attorney Cornel Wilde is married to Ann Dvorak, an alcoholic, and the leading town newspaper man Kirk Douglas brings a bombshell beauty for a wife to town called Linda Darnell. She outshines everyone else and is the most dangerous of all. Gradually Anne Baxter sails up to challenge her in the last moment, but then this surprisingly good film has already advanced into high gear drama ending up in a murder trial. At first you will suspect that the argument will be about drinking problems, especially as Kirk makes an issue of it in his paper and Cornel's wife never shows herself except when drunk. Neither couple has any children. Kirk is the one who at an early stage wonders why any man should ever marry a woman, and his question proves reasonable, when it is all too late. Alfred Newman provides the music, always amazingly reliably excellent, and the environment of a small midwest very conventional town around 1910 is endearingly charming. You will be surprised to find such a small local world being able to come up with such a very intriguing drama. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040949/ The Blind Goddess (1948) (9/10) Gentlemen’s dilemma of avoiding their ladies being scandalized 8 July 2019

The film is introduced in Prague with a spectacular murder, which is made to look like a suicide, which alerts the mind to what happened in Prague in 1948, when the film was released, as the communists took over the government by a coup involving the defenestration of Jan Masaryk and the death of Eduard Benes. However, this story happens entirely in London and involves corruption, as money intended for fugitives and displaced persons is channelled elsewhere, which alerts the always honest Michael Denison, who informs the prime minister, which leads to a libel case in court. The plot is complicated, it's difficult to follow all the meanderings, but the cast is outstanding all the way: Eric Portman as the advocate, Hugh Williams as the lord on trial, Claire Bloom in an early but shining performance and Anne Crawford as the spider in the web. The psychology of sensitive relationships is highly developed here. It's a great court-room drama with some political implications making it an interesting time document.

189


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040172/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Open Secret (1948) (9/10) Photographers getting into trouble for taking pictures of the truth 31 July 2019

This is a creeping thriller of some very unpleasant character, as it gets worse all the time. The newly wed John Ireland visits a friend on his honeymoon, but as he reaches the friend's apartment, the friend is gone and lost, while his apartment is constantly being haunted by guys looking for something. It proves to be pictures, which are far too revealing for the taste of a criminal gang trying to develop into new nazis. The thriller is very well composed, it is logic and realistic all the way, the suspense keeps increasing as the plot thickens without mercy, and finally you'll even get the sensation of seeing John Ireland fighting with his hands pinioned - few actors have done that on the screen. John Ireland seldom got the opportunity to play the lead, he was usually cast as second hand gangsters, but here he actually shows off, and it might be his best picture. The terrific music adds to the atmospheric tension of the film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040671/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Daybreak (1948) (10/10) Barge drama with Eric Portman and Ann Todd married for good and for worse 6 August 2019

Although Eric Portman never makes a sympathetic character, never is likeable and usually makes crooks and villains, if not murderers, he always makes a lasting impression, and he is at his best in tragedies, the darker the better. This is a typical barge drama, you have seen it innumerable times before, an intimate marriage disturbed by a third part leading to inevitable disaster, but here the dreadfulness of the business is augmented by superb acting, espcially by Ann Todd, who makes a perfect character in all her simplicity and sincerity. She really loves Eric and wastes his tenderness on him, while he has to attend to his business, which is very questionable, while a third part naturally sees his opportunity, a very base fellow, of which you can't expect anytting good in ihis constant impertinence. The film begins with Eric's final confrontation with him, leading to obligatory flashbacks, leading to the inevitabvle catastrophe. Compton Bennett earlier made "The Seventh Veil", another advanced psychological drama of higher wits and intelligence than this one, but nevertheless this one is on the same level, if not even

190


more interesting by the very suggestive cinematography. . You have to admit it: this is a film that will stay in your mind forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039304/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) (9/10) "Get that singing nightingale out of my hair." 20 October 2019

This is a very remarkable film for its amazing blend of different styles, and many people are shocked by it and want to turn it off immediately as the atrocities pile up already from the beginning with brutalities constantly getting worse, but at the same time there is a highly developed romanticism pervading the entire film, and what really does it is the music by George Melachrino, an amazing score of high quality with a virtuoso orchestra, and for those who object against the raw barbarity of a dominating bunch of terrible people, it must be pointed out that the music saves the film. The cinematography is also creative and fascinating, and there are wonderful show numbers on the stage of the night club. None of the actors are very well known today, they are all practically forgotten, but they are all acting well under the qualified direction of St. John Leigh Clowes - I don't know of any other film he has made, so maybe there isn't any other. The story is extremely dramatic in all its confusing complexities, it really makes you hate all the crooks, the worst of which are Ma and Eddie, and the drama reaches constantly new heights with an astounding finale. It's an English film, which you can't suspect as they all speak and act American in an American city and environment, and it could be seen as something of an English paraphrase and dramatization of the general American noir genre. It is revolting but really shows off in stylish refinery, and whether you hate it or are disgusted by it, you must admit that it is a very near thing to a masterpiece. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040647/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 I Remember Mama (1948) (9/10) Norwegian idylls in San Francisco 7 November 2019

This is an unusual part for Irene Dunne, but she manages it perfectly. She is totally convincing as the Norwegian immigrant matron of a large Norwegian family counting every coin to survive, surrounded by Barbara Bel Geddes (the daughter who writes her story), Oscar Homolka as the rich uncle in an automobile, the greatest character of the play, Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the learned parasite, and others. It's a wonderful story, and George Stevens has succeeded excellently in finding the right

191


mentality and atmosphere in the very typical Norwegian immigrant home. This was one of Barbara Bel Geddes first parts, and she is already quite herself here. She was not beautiful enough to ever become one of the great film stars, but she always acted well and made great characters. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040458/?ref_=nv_sr_2?ref_=nv_sr_2 That Lady in Ermine (1948) (9/10) A heroic princess of the 16th century intervening in the 19th This was Ernst Lubitsch's last film, and the tragedy of it was that he died on the way of heart failure at only 55, so Otto Preminger had to complete it. This provides a clash in style between the two Viennese masters, which the film suffers from. It was intended as a spiritual and sparkling comedy, but it gets a bit heavy on the way under Preminger's probably reluctant direction. The main assets of the film is the brilliant and very original script, the splendid colours and costumes, making the film visual fireworks all the way, and Betty Grable is surprsingly good in a character totally out of her usual parade. Douglas Fairbanks Jr is always a dashing expert, and all the others contribute also well to the show, while the prize goes to the imagination of the plot - it transcends history, as it makes the 16th century play an important part by intervening in the 19th century, so it's a play using different historical dimensions to compliment each other. The music is also splendid, and here you notice the real Viennese spirit of the film. Although you might have some objections to some silliness and other flimsy ingredients, you simply must be impressed by the final dancing scene when they break the ceiling. The main Lubitsch spirit of great comedy and humour shines through after all and survives even Otto Preminger's heavyweight in handling the material. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040869/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Eagle with Two Heads (1948) (8/10) An isolated empress deals with the surprise visit of an anarchist intent on assassinating her. 12 February 2020

No matter what you may think of this meticulously over-burdened drama inspired by the personality and fate of the empress Elizabeth of Austria in the 19th century, and set in the romantic environment of her world (like the ‘Sissi’ films with Romy Schneider), the idea here is ingenious. The empress has been in mourning since ten years after her husband was assassinated, and she lives only for continuing to grieve for him while she never appears in public any more except concealed by a veil, when one night, as she is going to celebrate his memory with a lonesome supper in the company of his imagined ghost, an anarchist breaks in to her castle on a mission to

192


assassinate her, but he is badly wounded. The strange thing is that he looks exactly like her martyred husband. That is the spring of this tale. The music is fantastic (composed by George Auric), and the most impressing scene is when she gives a ball with grand festive music for all the society, while the anarchist makes his surprise visit in her private quarters, while the ball goes booming on, and his failed mission turns into a drama. The settings are also marvellous with sumptuous decorations and great flamboyant cinematography, while also the dialogue throughout the film is extremely intensive and over-loaded. The drama is by Jean Cocteau himself, and it is a good example of filmed theatre, while at the same time he consistently sticks to perfect realism – all this could have happened. There is much of the Mayerling atmosphere here. The films is perhaps a bit too long, the subplot of the intrigues by the chief of security police goes maybe at bit too far and feels rather unnecessary, while the main theme could have been made more and better of. Anyway, it’s a marvellously interesting film for its creative imagination and typically Cocteauan great innovative spirit. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039135/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Larceny (1948) (8/10) Rotten scoundrels doing their best to botch a job by blunders The fact that Dan Dureya is one of the leads here announces that you are in for another squalid and dirty hoodlums' cocktail with some innocents involved being turned into helpless victims, usually dames, but here is also Shelley Winters in the beginning of her career as one of the worst collaborators involved in this mess, but she ultimately pays the full price, while fortunately Joan Caulfield gets out of it alive and clean. John Payne is rather unwilling in the racket but hangs on, until he falls in love with Joan Caulfield, which actually saves his character. It's a sordid story of crtiminality and scoundrelism and repentance and maybe atonement and nothing great in the genre, just another episode out of the dark world of deceits and lies. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039550/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Bribe (1948) (9/10) Robert Taylor as a cop meets Ava Gardner at the centre of some smuggling racket in steamingly exotic Central America. 23 March 2020

Charles Laughton steals the show as usual, here as an old smuggler who has seen better days and suffers from sore feet, as he tries to manoeuvre a smuggling racket on an island off Central America, where he works with Vincent Price in a particularly disgusting character. Ava Gardner is there though and more splendid than ever in

193


her amazing beauty, married to a drunkard that does not get any better but goes from bad to worse, as he is all mixed up in the racket. Enter Robert Taylor as a police sent from America to investigate and put an end to the smuggling, but he naturally gets involved with Ava Gardner. There are some striking scenes here of adventures at sea, while the finale offers you a wild fiesta with fireworks. There is everything here except Hemingway. The film is a bit overloaded and gets rather stagnant at times, but on the whole it’s a great noir offering all the best of the genre. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041207/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 On the Town (1949) (10/10) Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Vera-Ellen, Ann Miller and some more of the same sort – what else could it be but the perfect entertainment? 11 October 2016

Party all the way through all New York and out again, with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra leading the show, accompanied by a bunch of irresistible girls, like Vera-Ellen and Ann Miller dancing both their shoes and their heads off, but there is an uncountable number of other dancing girls as well. We also have the irresistible Lucy Shmeeler melting into the party and doing all she can to spoil it, particularly by coughing and sneezing, There are other party crashers as well, like their fellow seamen from the same ship, like Simpkins and Gobarsky, and other swell fellas like Ozzy (Jules Munshin) managing to bring down a giant Dinosaur in the museum in a rubble like the Twin Towers, bringing out all New York in chase of him, I think I would choose Lucy Shmeeler and Jules Munshin for my favorites here, and of course Brunhilde Esterhazy (Betty Garrett) as a perfect wedding cake pudding as a taxi driver. Comedy is the mark of this glorious film of entertainment about the hazards of some sailors' permit for one day in all the night clubs and loose ends of New York with glorious music and high gear dancing all through – it should be tiresome with so much constant dancing and entertainment, but it isn't. It works the other way and is only thoroughly enlivening and brilliant cheer of sustained energetic inspiration increasing all the way. The result is one of those films you always will return to in order to laugh some more and get even higher spirits. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041716/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Fan (1949) (10/10) How can a fan be so exciting? 8 October 2016

Oscar Wilde shines through all the way with his remarkable wit and knowledge of human nature, here especially about women. Dorothy Parker adding to it makes it a double treat. Here you find Oscar Wilde amazingly updated to after the second world war with its rationing and bombed ruins of London, adding an extra spice of melancholy and sadness to the glittering wit and intrigue of fin de siècle refinement.

194


All the actors are outstanding, Otto Preminger bringing out the best of them all, not only George Sanders and Madeleine Carroll in double performances as both young and old; but also Jeanne Crain and Richard Greene are exactly adapted to their involuntary parts of having to feign their demeanour and treading uncertainly on a precarious path of extreme human delicacy. You are led to believe the worst of Madeleine Carroll at first, and indeed she is a fallen lady, but she has learned something of it and conveys the wisdom of her experience in a wondrous way according to the best of Oscar Wilde's sharp human studies. This is a film for wits to relish, and Otto Preminger surprises once again with delivering something entirely new even to his own experience. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041346/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Secret Garden (1949) (9/10) Three children find each other in a world of darkness and bring light into it. 31 May 2015

This is a marvel of a film in many ways, for its extreme contrasts and almost paradox nature of joining utter horror tragedy with the idylls of paradise. It's a story of children written for children, but the film actually turns it almost into a horror feature, as the screaming child in the nights would give anyone compulsory nightmares, especially since no explanation is provided. Adding to the gloomy horror nature of a Dickens nightmare at its worst is Gladys Cooper as the totally cold-blooded aunt who is worse than a death skull in her insensitivity, and of course Herbert Marshall as the uncle, who for once has the opportunity for a different character than a gentleman. The tantrums are not those of his forcibly crippled son but of his own, which he projects on the world around him and especially on his only son, in a morbid effort to turn him into the same guilt complex martyr as himself. The scenes with the children are terrific, but the great trick is the use of the blackand-white somberness that dominates the film as a base for the effect achieved when the film bursts into color. This had already been used effectively, especially in "The Portrait of Jennie" with Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten, another masterpiece of cinematic artwork, but here it is more demonstrative, as if the contrasts between the dark gloom of hell and the paradise of the secret garden needed accentuating. It was remade in 1994 by Agnieszka Holland all in color, which definitely transcends this earlier version, abstaining from the horror ingredients and sticking more convincingly to the story with emphasis on making the psychology work. Nevertheless, both versions are well worth seeing and returning to, in some ways complementing each other, this one as the more dramatic and Holland's as the more beautiful. Of course, on such a great and enchantingly constructive story about lovable children bringing life into a world of decay around them, no film could fail. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041855/?ref_=nv_sr_4 Thieves’ Highway (1949) (9/10)

195


Richard Conte goes to a profitable harvest of apples and almost never returns. 8 January 2015

A remarkable film for its splendid technique and impressive acting for a very downto-earth subject: the harvesting and selling of apples. Jules Dassin himself described it as a B feature which he loved making, and some scenes he even described as the best he had ever done. It's really a universal subject about justice and karma visualized on a very basic level. Almost all the actors are practically unknown, no dazzling film stars, while their acting transcends stardom. The real star is Valentina Cortese as the tramp paid by the villain to entrap the honest Richard Conte, she is a professional prostitute and nothing less, whose human nature nonetheless gets the better of her. She is a marvel in every scene. Lee J. Cobb was always the magnificent villain in every film he had that joy to perform in and here more than ever. The apple story, however, gets the better of all of them with quite a few casualties on the way. Like his masterpiece "Rififi" 6 years later this is a moral tale with many aspects to its strange diversions and at the same time an almost unendurably exiting thriller for being all about apples. You start worrying from the beginning, it's over-obvious that this will be a disastrous journey, which already the introduction gives the fatal imprint of, and still it gets worse all the way than you could ever imagine. As a critic said, after this you can never eat an apple again without watching your back and think of corruption, assaults, trickery, treachery, catastrophe and death. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041958/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Accused (1949) (9/10) Interesting investigation of the dilemma of having committed a crime unintentionally. 7 July 2015

This is actually a love story and, as is usually the case with noirs of the 40s, a very well written one, especially since it deals with some rather tricky psychological matters, of which guilt complex resulting in fear approaching the borders of possible schizophrenia is just one. What makes this film more than average of classy noirs of the 40s with a romantic and seriously psychological intrigue is the interesting peripatetic moment of the boxing match, when Loretta Young unintentionally gives herself away, and how very interestingly Robert Cummings as her lawyer and lover reacts to that. The acting is superb throughout, the story is credible and convincing, the dilemma of unintentionally having killed someone and the natural urge to avoid the consequences and take responsibility for what was not intended, anyone can understand and relate to. To all this comes Victor Young's endearing score fashioning the experience with a golden frame, the beauty of which increases all the time. In brief, this is a much underrated, unjustly forgotten and deeply human and interesting film, that deserves some intention after having been more or less buried alive since 50 years. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040071/?ref_=nv_sr_1

196


Eroica (1949) (9/10) A more than satisfying Beethoven portrait I agree completely with the previous reviewer – this is the definite Beethoven film, above all because of Ewald Balser's almost more than convincing impersonation, but everything is excellent in this film – the acting, let's not forget the irresistibly beautiful ladies, the choice and composition of the musical illustrations and accompaniments – most impressing of these is probably the cathedral scene, when the camera sweeps along all the audience like in a search of the chorus but finally ends up there all around Beethoven himself – and the acting of the young Oscar Werner as the hopeless nephew Karl adds a significant contrasting spice to the biopic, which maintains the balance between story, supporting actors, music and the central theme, which is the personal victory of Beethoven over his deafness – the end is like an apotheosis but a very practical one. This film repairs completely the damages caused by Abel Gance's terrible mammoth bathos ruined by a monstrosity of exaggerated sentimentality in his very ambitious but well-meaning effort of 1936, in which the actor ruined everything by being completely wrong; but the Gary Oldman film of 1994 isn't bad either, in spite of the fact that the story there is all wrong. Also here the story is rather a construction, but the two countesses did really exist and certainly loved him, and he couldn't treat them any better than he did; so although incorrect it's true in its meaning. Highest possible praise for this very moving and true Beethoven film that misses nothing of what was important about him. Ed Harris in all his virtuosity acting in the 2006 film, the latest, is but a shadow to Ewald Balser. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041335/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Black Magic (1949) (8/10) Orson Welles as the greatest of charlatans 24 July 2017

The necklace scandal of Marie Antoinette's was always an impossible subject to do anything about in literature, drama or film, since it was a totally undramatic intrigue of a rather foolish kind depending entirely on stupid people's duplicity. Cagliostro had nothing to do with it, except that he observed it from above with some glee and might have had a hand in its manipulation. The real architects and victims of the plot are not even mentioned in the film: the Cardinal de Rohan and the adventuress Jeanne de la Motte, who got brandished and banished for her part and kept writing hateful pamphlets against Marie Antoinette all her life although the Queen was entirely innocent – she never wanted to buy the necklace in the first place. But the scandal fascinated all the gossips and minds of Europe, and Alexander Dumas wrote three or four volumes of novels about a Cagliostro that was entirely dreamt up in his imagination. The real Cagliostro was perhaps the greatest and most typical of charlatans and nothing else, a Sicilian who tricked his way into society and

197


up the ladder of politics in Paris and might really have been as megalomaniac as Orson Welles makes him, obsessed with power, but much more discreetly and furtively than Orson Welles' more swashbuckling character. He ended his life in destitution and prison. Alexander Dumas endows him with the power of hypnosis, which is pure fiction. Cagliostro was a great manipulator and cheat but was never serious about anything, rather something of a universal amateur, while Anton Mesmer was very serious about his more scientific research. In the film they meet in the beginning, and their coupling is perhaps the most interesting trait of the film, as they meet again in the end. Orson Welles has here the opportunity to play out his greatest powers as an actor, and he stops at nothing and enjoys every turn of it, especially in the grandiose finale. The court scene is a joke, though, falling flat on its own comedy – not even in prerevolutionary France could such a court have been possible, and it's the only objectionable part of the film, due to a weak script. Even 18th century France would have laughed at it. They have done their best to turn an impossible story into a good film, and although nothing remains of reality in this hullabaloo of a national scandal, it's a great film, and Orson Welles makes one of his very best performances, if not the best after "The Third Man" – there is not much time between them. He was a great magician in reality, you can also see him performing in "Casino Royale" as Le Chiffre in the 1967 version and in "The Sailor from Gibraltar". He actually won some prizes for his art, and he always enjoyed practicing it, which you can see here what a professional he was. In order to put some drama into the story, it's all muddled up, and it's almost as impossible to follow all the turnings and intrigues of it as it was in reality, but it is very entertaining, lavish in its sumptuous costumery, and there is no drama lacking in the climax. The director was Gregory Ratoff, but you can see Orson Welles' hand in it as well in quite a few scenes. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041182/?ref_=nv_sr_1 House of Strangers (1949) (9/10) An American Italian family drama of an autocratic father of a banking family with four sons against him. This is one of Joe Mankiewicz' lesser known films (birthday today 11.2) and definitely among his best ones. Edward G. Robinson performs at his best as the Italian father of a banking family with four brothers embroiled with each other, as usual in Mankiewicz's films a brilliant dialogue mesmerize you all through, Susan Hayward also making a splendid performance. Richard Conte plays the one son who acts honourably, while all the others turn against him and betray their father out of necessity to survive – and let Conte pay for it. When he is freed from prison (which is where the film begins, and we know nothing yet of what has passed), the immediate meeting with his brothers creates the suspense which lasts and constantly grows 198


tighter through the entire film, until the conflict is resolved in the end after many unexpected turns. All actors are at their best, while the lasting impression is made by Conte as a paragon of straight Sicilian nobility, Susan Hayward as a surprising woman of superior character, and above all Edward G. Robinson as the father, who although powerful and successful can't quite follow the new turns of his age. Although autocratic he never becomes unsympathetic, but you rather understand him and have to pity him – he is the tragedy, in a marvellously well-written film script (as all of Joe Mankiewicz' films are) perfectly handled by a masterful director and a set of actors together creating a virtuoso family performance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041487/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Give Us This Day (1949) (10/10) Almost documentary about Italian workers in Brooklyn around the Great Depression. This film is extremely difficult to find anywhere, and still it's a major milestone in the history of film noir. Both Edward Dmytryk and Sam Wanamaker fled America for the McCarthy persecutions and made this unique film in London about Little Italy in New York. It's brutally expressionistic and realistic about the conditions of Italian building workers in New York and was forbidden in America – today you wonder why. Sam Wanamaker remained in Britain, made many films, was in 'Holocaust' and initiated the process of rebuilding the Globe theatre in London. Another of his major performances was in "The Voyage of the Damned" 1976, another great film of documentary character and a true story; but "Give Us This Day", also known as "Christ in Concrete" is his quest for immortality as a very ordinary Italian worker in Brooklyn with great foibles and weaknesses, and he is well supported by Kathleen Ryan (expert at such roles, like also in "Odd Man Out") and Lea Padovani as the sorely tried but heart-renderingly faithful wife. Perhaps the greatest credit of all in this film is due to the music of Benjamin Frankel, booming with beauty sand pathos all the way, while above all the story is without comparison in its very human and overwhelmingly true account of the conditions of Italian house-building workers in Brooklyn around the Great Depression. This film makes an unforgettable impression the first time, and you will always recall it with tears and return to it – a film indeed worth owning. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041416/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Madame Bovary (1949) (10/10) The long passionate fall of Madame Bovary perfectly and adorably carried out by Jennifer Jones and Vincente Minnelli 25 July 2017

I could never like Gustave Flaubert for his merciless realism completely void of any idealism, but as a realist he was one of the sharpest in France, wherefore a novel like 199


"Madame Bovary" is perhaps best seen as a clinical and perfect documentary. As Gustave Flaubert said himself, there are thousands of Emma Bovarys all over France. At the same time, he confessed Emma Bovary to be himself. Here is a paradox and mystery worth investigating. Jennifer Jones as Emma, even better than Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina, is the extreme opposite of Bernadette of Lourdes 6 years earlier, for which she was awarded an Oscar. Jennifer as Emma is the extreme idealist who lives only for her dreams and commits the mistake of trying to make reality her dreams. This is a very human and common mistake. Gustave Flaubert's own tragedy was perhaps that he could not indulge in committing that mistake himself. Instead, he indulged the more in giving Emma free reins to go to any length in that indulgence, in which he is very thorough in tearing her apart piece by piece. Is this cruelty or realism? It is perhaps cruelty excused by realism, but it's definitely realism and unassailable as such. Van Heflin is reliably honest in his part as usual and makes a thoroughly impeccable impersonation of a perfectly normal and honestly boring man. As in the novel, he is impossible not to put horns on. He is too honest for his own good. Her case starts when she gradually more and more find her ideals incompatible with the reality she is confined to and finds more and more like a prison. Her only cure is escapism into her dreams, trying obsessively to drown the unbearable pettiness of her naked reality in luxury - and the first lover, the handsome Leon, played by the handsome Swede Alf Kjellin, perfect for that part, like almost another Axel von Fersen. To all this comes Vincente Minnelli's amazing direction. He had almost only made show films before, and here suddenly he is as psychologically brilliant and poignant as another Hitchcock. The great ball scene, when she first meets Louis Jourdan, is Vincente Minnelli in full bloom combining splendid festivity with dark undercurrents of impending tragedy, impressively illustrated by the crushing of windows and glasses, as poor Van Heflin, drunk, searches for his wife, as if he unconsciously already knew he had lost her.... The music (Miklos Rosza) is also perfect as everything else in this film, Frank Allenby is terrible in his handsome ruthlessness as her creditor, and Gladys Cooper comes sailing in as the perfect mother spoiling everything, almost compelling Emma to adultery by her puritan insistence, and then comes Louis Jourdan opening the abyss with his insolent superiority... James Mason introduces and ends the film as Gustave Flaubert himself, defending himself and Emma at court, with as eloquent a brilliance as everything else in this film. You certainly should see it again sometime. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041615/?ref_=nv_sr_4 The History of Mr. Polly (1949) (9/10) Mr Polly and the idylls of the king

200


11 May 2017

This is probably H.G.Wells' best story or at least his most human and charming one. It's a petty triviality, but in the small things you can find some golden traces of hidden treasures worth discovering, which is what Mr. Polly does. John Mills is perfect for the job, especially since he fails in all his official ones, while all he is good for is reading old tales of chivalry and dreaming of some faint ideal far beyond his reach. Accidentally he gets married, and she turns out to make the worst for him, so he plans to get away by suicide and fails completely even with that. But a great momentum is waiting for him. Finlay Currie is equally perfect as the hooligan Uncle Jim, who is only good at making mincemeat of people and tries hard at it, (they were better partnered together just previously in "Great Expectations" as Pip and Magwitch,) but also he fails completely, leaving Mr. Polly out of breeches and in a strange situation with a lost body, which later turns up to most accidentally again save him from further trouble... The small man finally finds his kingdom and the proper idylls to it, where he can at last get thorough in reading his tales of chivalry and enjoy some meditation and fishing. It's an idyllic comedy with some hardship to it and a titbit as such, with excellent acting, enjoyable direction and tailor-made music to suit it all as well. I saw it the first time some 40 years ago but enjoyed the revenue even more. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041469/?ref_=nv_sr_7 The Interrupted Journey (1949) (10/10) An interrupted train journey leads to no end to a troublesome train of events... 25 May 2017

This is an amazing nightmare thriller taking you on a journey of constantly new surprising turns, and the fact that the journey is interrupted only leads a train of journeys leading you ever more astray and ending up in a nightmare abyss. Valerie Hobson graces the film with her charming and amiable personality, whoever would have left a wife like that? – which the hero (Richard Todd) immediately realizes but to his dismay finds it is already too late. The intrigue is fantastic. It's kind of Kafkaesque in its labyrinth of constantly worse complications, and not until the mother closes the door on Richard with her testimony of having identified her dead son herself you begin to suspect that everything is not quite all right – something begins to warn you about all logic and reality disappearing. It's marvellously filmed with its turning more and more almost hallucinogenic, as the drunkard at the hotel really starts derailing for serious. 201


It's a wondrous concoction of a train of events leading you off the rails so often and so frequently that you begin seriously to doubt the honesty of the film, but you can stay calm – it all makes perfect sense in the end, as the detail of the clock finally concludes this strange odyssey of a psychological nightmare. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041511/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Murder at the Windmill (1949) (9/10) Delightful murder at the theatre with some idyllic circumstances 7 July 2017

This is like no other murder case. More interesting than who done it in this case is how it was done. It could only have been done from stage, so the helpless inspectors have no choice but to endure the whole show over again from the beginning to investigate at which point the shot could have been fired and how. They reach the end of the show until before the finale in a hilarious Mexican number all the girls on stage fire their own pistol. This is a criminal comedy at its very best. It couldn't be more hilarious. At the same time, it's almost documentary, since this theatre actually never closed during the war but kept on giving shows day and night and was extremely popular in its charming location off the Piccadilly. The poor inspectors have to suffer through one silly number after another, plagued by a bassoon pedant, silly dances with dogs, satirical ballets making fun of Hollywood, and in between lots of gags in the canteen, police officers getting lost in the theatre falling over chairs, one trying to escape and so on, while the girls keep playing cards when they are not on stage. It's a wonderful rendering of how life at the Windmill actually went on almost non stop throughout the war with all its idyllic professional but endearing silliness. Applause, and applause again with cries for joy. It's simply adorable. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041669/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Reckless Moment (1949) (10/10) Mother in distress just in time for Christmas 7 May 2016

A perfect family in a perfect Californian community by the coast, the daughter (17) gets mixed up with a fatal charmer, mother intervenes, the charmer asks for money

202


to stay out, makes one call too much, happens to an accident, the mother adds to her load of troubles by trying to dispose of the body, and then the complications start: the daughter has written many compromising letters to the charmer, which a ruthless blackmailer gets hold of, and there you are. Well, well. The complications have only started accumulating. Joan Bennett is always perfect and more than perfect, she never played any great personage, but her characters are always absolutely straight and clear, which makes her always impressing. James Mason is also more than perfect as the hired blackmailer who turns soft and into something of a chivalrous saviour, taking over more than a due part of the worries in an interesting change of character, and then you have the virtuoso direction of Max Ophuls on top of that in his last American film and perhaps in some ways the best. Just the scene of James Mason entering the bar in search of his boss is in itself a masterpiece. His rendering of this American home tragedy is almost documentary in character, the realism in all its details with the children and the housemaid is so natural, and the mother couldn't be more motherish. Ophuls delivers as usual more than you have bargained for, and one of the greatest cinematic pleasures you could encounter is to see an Ophuls film for the first time without knowing anything about it. You will always remember it for life. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041786/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Britannia Mews (1949) (10/10) How the dire commitment into hazardous trial and error is ultimately and surprisingly rewarded What a wonderful film this is! It is difficult to catalogue all its vast variations of deserts, with sudden turn of events and charming details constantly renewing and refreshing the story, which is like a Dickens novel. Maureen O'Hara is always good but here better than ever, while Dana Andrews takes you by surprise with this virtuoso performance totally out of his ordinary style, vying in charm with Robert Donat; while the prize goes to Sybil Thorndike, who makes a really frightening witch with more than one bag of evil up her sleeve, which she uses with calculation and effective impact. It's really an environmental film depicting a slum area with exciting intrigue and characters and fascinating idylls of the gutter. It's related with another environmental London film of the same time, "London Belongs to Me" with equally convincing documentary rendering of local life in London town, but here the events take place long before the turn of the century – Bernard Shaw is mentioned as a rising star in the beginning of his career. The miracle of the story is how a tragedy is turned to its opposite. A failed painter leaves behind the result of his secret hobby work, making puppets, and these turn out to be his real masterpiece. A really hopeless tragedy of bleak dreariness with no way out is miraculously turned into comedy by his puppets coming alive. The process of this U-turn of fate is completely natural, and a tragedy of human decay, failure, alcoholism and dishonour is suddenly reversed into a cheerful comedy – the

203


real comedian is Maureen O'Hara's helpful brother, who understands things his own way. The end of it is how the dreadfully sultry slum turns into a wonderland of idylls and charm in spite of all, and there, ultimately, after all the heartbreaks, the heart nevertheless will remain. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041382/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Rope of Sand (1949) (7/10) Burt Lancaster and Paul Henreid fighting it out over greed and vulgar hooker 2 January 2018

After a row of the most subtle and sensitive love films ever made in Hollywood, William Dieterle resorted to this brutal and primitive drama of greed in the deserts of Kalahari. The actors are all superb (except Corinne Calvet, who is a failure and never even convincing as such,) but the script is lacking in any human credibility. Such an eloquent actor as Paul Henreid is made to play a sadistic villain without any human nuances, and Burt Lancaster is mostly used to apply his knuckles. The only good performance is Claude Rains, whose relevant cynicism in this dreadful study in greed is all too convincing. Sam Jaffe and Peter Lorre add some sympathy by their decadent characters but not much and far from enough to make this film interesting in any other way than photographically. Only Franz Waxman's fantastic music makes it endurable at all. Sorry about that, Mr Dieterle. Your previous masterpieces made us expect more of you than this sordid B-melodrama. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041822/?ref_=tt_urv Too Late for Tears (1949) (9/10) Men getting into trouble both for felony and honesty just for her. 31 January 2018

Lizabeth Scott keeps you stuck on her throughout this film no matter what she is doing. What would you yourself do if a passing car suddenly passes a bag full of money into yours and vanishes? In this case Lizabeth Scott is together with her husband Arthur Kennedy, who is a completely decent fellow who immediately wants to give over the money to the police, while Lizabeth wants to keep it. There the trouble starts. It is increased by some bad luck on the way. Things don't always go as you planned. In this case, two strangers turn up, one more unpleasant to her than the other. And what's more, she commits mistakes and cause accidents to happen. Pity for such a beautiful woman. She remains equally fascinating though in every film she made, and they are usually dark noirs with her husky voice filling the atmosphere with ominous threats against 204


everyone's existence. Throughout this film her acting is the consistent focus point of your fascination while the others in comparison don't seem to act at all, except Arthur Kennedy, who is always good and has a special knack for honest straightforward roles. Her constant change, like a chameleon, from charming grace and smiles to solemn sinister brooding boding no good to anyone, from tears and despair to flippant gaiety, is a play in itself and indeed worth watching - in every film, like "The Racket", "Dark City" and "Dead Reckoning". She is almost like a Garbo of the dark. http://www.imdb.com/user/ur10491760/?ref_=nb_usr_prof_0 The Barklays of Broadway (1949) (8/10) Ginger and Fred in silly arguments about nothing in a nonsensical story saved by Oscar and dancing. 9 February 2018

There is nothing wrong with this film, and yet it doesn't really get going. The intrigue is too stupid (a couple quarrelling all the time without coming to a decision whether to split or not), the dialogue is insipid, the tempo is too slow, the film is too long about nothing, and you keep longing for the musical dancing scenes, which of course save the film, including Oscar Levant, who is the only one adding some ingenuity to this general awkwardness. Not until Fred and Ginger at last get going in proper classical style and elegance in "They Can't Take That Away From Me" you feel at home with their standard again. This is clearly not their best film, maybe the worst, but it's still worth watching for their and Oscar Levant's sake. Sorry, I can't give it more than 8. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041158/ Song of Surrender (1949) (8/10)

Claude Rains yet again as a tyrant involved with music 24 February 2018

An odd film about the power of music: Claude Rains as an elderly curate bullies his much youngar wife, an uneducated girl he treats like serving maid, but she doesn't mind, until another, younger man enters her life. With him follows a grammophone (1906) with records of Caruso, and that changes her life and that of Claude Rains as well. He becomes jealous of the grammophone, but the more resists and battles against the intrusion of music in his life, the more deeply he will eventually succumb to it. Claude Rains makes an awesome performance as usual, and the others are good enough but pale in his presence, while the greatest asset of the film is the music. It's not only Caruso, but the score is by Victor Young, and you will never forget that

205


melody. It's a very unusual film for actually making music play the lead of both the story and the character of it, and you will eventually forget the story and the characters but not the music. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041899/ Jigsaw (1949) (9/10) Not quite Hitchcock but as close as you can get on level B. 26 February 2018

This is above all a fascinating intrigue. None of the actors are anything special, they are all good enough but not more, while the intrigue is more like a labyrinth of webs than a jigsaw puzzle. The film opens with an unknown man getting murdered for unknown reasons by an unknown man, and the poor widow of foreign origin is terrified to death to state anything else than that he committed suicide. That's just the first of a number of murders and attempts, and more and more people are getting involved all the time. Most of the action takes place at night in darkness, there is of course an exotic night club ("The Blue Angel" - what else?) with a dangerous blonde sounding the alarm at long distance for obviously being one of the spiders in the web knowing too much and too many people in too high positions, but she is not the only dangerous lady. The political undercurrent is rather remindful of "Keeper of the Flame" six years earlier about American underworld fascism, but this is after the war, and although there are hints at racism and nazism, the secret society here has no colour and is the more menacing for being open with many leads in society. The story is complicated but makes sense all the way, the logic is infallible, and there are many instances where you almost feel a Hitchcock behind the camera. It's only 72 minutes, so it's rather condensed and therefore thick and certainly hard for some to follow, wherefore it would be worth while seeing it again, especially for the Hitchcock references. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041523/ D.O.A. (1949) (10/10) The desperate race with death of innocence through jungles of deceit 16 March 2018

Some have called this film the best of all noirs, and there are many reasons for it. Edmond O'Brien, who usually played seconds, is here the lead, feeling bad on a small vacation trip and learning he has been poisoned and having only few days left 206


to live - and he can't understand why, since there is no reason. He starts pulling loose ends, which throw him into a maze of complications of what was originally only a minor intrigue, perhaps even only a mistake. The most impressing element of the film though is its composition. It starts very merrily with an extremely happy party with many lovely girls and charming women, leading eventually to a joint where the party continues, and where a strange man puts something into his drink. You only see his collar. There it begins. The collar will only reappear in the end. The race for him to find out what has happened continues throughout the film at a constantly higher gear, and there are some very nasty villains involved too, and many doubtful ladies. This film actually has everything associated with a noir and to the brim, and the conclusion is, mildly speaking, deadly. You leave the film shaken and very much disturbed, while perhaps the most rewarding lesson of the film is the insight into the fact that it is in death that you discover life. I would give 11 if it were possible. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042369/ Manhandled (1949) (8/10) A fantastic crime is committed on the basis of a dream. 21 April 2018

It's unusual to see Dorothy Lamour in a serious role as a victim with a fatherless child, outcast at the mercy of deceivers and crooks. Dan Duryea is more abominable than ever, his name on the list is enough to prepare you for a grim session of hatred of his person, while the other characters are actually rather comical, especially Art Smith as detective Dawson. It's really the comic traits that save the film. Sterling Hayden is always good and here as an insurance agent, while the murder case is intriguing enough. A well off author keeps dreaming about killing his awful wife, his dreams are so disturbing that he goes to a psychiatrist, who advises him to take enough sleeping pills to be knocked off. In his dreams he beats her to death with a perfume bottle while she is taking off her multi fortune jewels, and while he is knocked off his wife is actually murdered in that very way and her jewels stolen. The only certain thing about the murder is that her husband didn't do it since he was knocked off. It's an interesting intrigue that keeps your interest growing until things get off hand towards the end, when Dan Duryea runs off the rails and makes a mess of his own perfect set-up. It's not a great noir or thriller, but it certainly is odd and original and worth seeing at least once, mainly for the police comedy. The music is very good. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041631/

207


The Black Book (1949) (9/10) The French revolution in its death cramps turned into hardcore action. 30 April 2018

A gorgeous dramatization of the French revolution in its dying phase with all the leaders going down, Danton, Robespierre and St. Just, with Robert Cummings as a kind if French pimpernel working for Lafayette to unsettle the revolutionary establishment that has derailed into terror. It's a marvellous intrigue, with a beautiful lady at the centre, of course, and with some great acting that should be noted, especially Richard Baseheart (!) as Robespierre - it's impossible to recognize him. Can you see Captain Ahab's number one Starbuck or Fellini's jester in “La Strada” in this Robespierre? Equally outstanding is Arnold Moss as Fouché, oiling his ways into and out of intrigues and finally facing Napoleon. To all this comes a terrific score by Saul Kaplan. It's almost expressionistic and gives a very sharp impression of the drama of the French revolution. What then is failing? It's just slightly out of any realism. It's too adventurous, too much turned into an artificial thriller, and unfortunately Jess Barker is totally miscast as St. Just - he is not convincing at all, and St. Just was not like that. He was an effeminate dandy and no soldier. Still, it's a brilliant film with terrific action all the way, that can't disappoint anyone. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041796/ Not Wanted (1949) (10/10) Unwed mothers and their lost children 9 May 2018

A gripping drama of motherhood when complications without end set in. Sally has a relationship with an irresistible pianist, he actually plays quite well, but he is to occupied with his work and problems to be able to provide Sally with any proper support. He gets away, and Sally finds herself in the hands of a garage worker with a passion for toy railways. When she is pregnant from her former relationship, she runs away and ends up in a home for unwed mothers. The film is mostly remarkable for being Ida Lupino's debut as a director, and at the time the subject was etremely sensitive and taboo and could not be discussed openly. This taboo situation has in an interesting way marked the film like in a haze of mystery, and you get insights in the lives of unwed mothers and their tough luck that shine with fascinating intimacy. This is a women's film about women made by a woman, and as such it is precious, to say the least.

208


Sally Forrest makes a tremendous performance, she is just a common woman, this part would have been ideal for Susan Hayward, and Sally actually reminds of her, but she is practically as good as Susan, with her weakness, her fits, her tensions and uncontrollable impulses, it's all perfectly real. The music is also quite good, and the piano scenes touch on great romanticism. It's a minor film, but the smallest jewels can sometimes be the most precious ones. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041700/?ref_=tt_urv The Big Clock (1949) (10/10) Murder by mistake with consequences 15 August 2018

This is one of the most intelligent thrillers ever made, with actors like Charles Laughton, Ray Milland, James Macready and Elsa Lanchester adding to the excellence. The main thing about the film is how the intrigue develops. It is a quiet war between an editor and his number one journalist, and while the almighty editor suspects nothing of Ray Milland's involvement, Ray Milland has the more reason to tread the more carefully - and does so with a vengeance all the way through - he actually never has to implicate his boss himself. Maureen O'Sullivan plays the poor wife who has the arduous task of adding yet another intrigue to the horribly mixed up mess of complications by her personal objections to her husband's blatant liberties, but there are several ingenious comedy instances as well, especially the goings-on at the bar where Ray Milland is too well known. There are so many captivating details about this brilliant thriller, that it will never do to see it only once. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040160/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Port of New York (1949) (9/10) The mortal danger of the drug traffick both for profiteers and FBI agents, already in 1949 2 September 2018

This is very much in the style of the documentaries of Henry Hathaway the preceding years, giving a very high strung criminal story of extreme suspense an almost documentary quality. Yul Brynner is superb as the criminal in chief, his suave cruelty earns a place among the most notorious cinema bandits on the screen, and he sustains his character to the end - you almost fall to the temptation to like him, for his charm and very sleek politeness, and you must understand the women that fall to his fascination, although he reckons them as nothing unless they suit his purposes. Richard Rober as Flannery is also very good, almost a Dana Andrews type. Another great asset enhancing the general quality of this very hardboiled drama is the

209


dramatic music by Sol Kaplan. This is an underrated noir well in line with Henry Hathaway's best quality and shouldn't be missed. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041761/?ref_=tt_urv Man on the Run (1949) (9/10) London after the war with the social problem of 20,ooo loose deserters, many of them criminal and on the run 23 November 2018

What you will remember of this film is the local atmosphere from the post war London with its rather weary aspect both in people and their minds and the shaggy streets, ultimately leading you down to old Wapping with one of the most genuine pub atmospheres found in any film, but there is a long way to go before that. You will also remember the difficult case of 20,000 deserters after the war, many of them turning to criminality for having no other choice. That's the clinch in which our hero finds himself, when a burglary takes place the moment he is trying to pawn his old gun without bullets, the two robbers in desperation shooting both the clerk and, when on the run, a policeman fatally - the first casualty in the film. The clerk recovers and gives a description of our hero, whom he saw, while the two burglars were masked. So our hero finds himself wanted for murder. Could you get into any deeper sea of trouble? It's also memorable for the fine performance by Joan Hopkins, who plays a widow who believes in our hero's innocence, Kenneth More has a small part in the beginning, which turns out fatal for our hero on a constant run, and Laurence Harvey is a policeman - neither is sympathetic. Derek Farr plays our hero convincingly enough, a completely ordinary man with an inordinate amount of bad luck, having lost practically all his family in the war. It's a sad story but well made, and the beautiful music adds some extra romantic and melancholy charm to it. In spite of the poor technical quality, I must give it almost a full score for its interesting story of an eloquent script, fluent tempo and excellent cinematography. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040566/ The Man in Black (1949) (7/10) A poor heiress exposed at the mercy of a beautiful stepmother and her vicious daughter (7) This is a chamber drama of a family, as a rich dying father leaves everything to his only daughter, who is beset by her stepmother and her daughter (who then isn’t even her half-sister), who of course are interested in the inheritance, as the father only leaves them morsels. The intrigue is how they will go about it, and their

210


method is very similar to that of ”Gaslight”. There is an old servant of the manor, usuallly drunk, however, whom they don’t bother to count with, which is their mistake. They don’t get any help either from the opportunist wooer, who thinks it will be easy to marry the heiress for her money, even though he accidentally succeeds in killing the old drunk. The whole thing gets increasingly messed up, and the greedy ladies gradually lose control of what is happening. But it is a very intelligent intrigue, all the absurd turnings of the tale are quite logical when you analyse them, but it could have been made a so much better film. As it is, it is too much condensed, which makes it superficial. A man like Hitchcock would have been needed to film a drama like this, he wouldn’t have missed the opportunity for suspense and surprise, but taken better care of the vital crucial moments. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041627/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Any Number Can Play (1949) (9/10) An honest gambler’s last night of gambling 8 April 2019

Richard Brooks is the script writer of this film, which is the most interesting aspect of it. It’s a chamber drama all happening whithin one day and night, and although nothing really happens, the suspense and tension is gradually and relentlessly increased until the very last moment. Clark Gable as the honest gambler has a successful gambling joint, while his son objects to the questionable morals of his profession, and his wife, Alexis Smith as noble as ever, tries to hold on to some decency of a regular family life in constantly proving his better half. There are other women around him as well, Mary Astor makes an impression in an important scene, and there is his miserable brother-in-law who does what he can to wreck the family and Clark’s honest business, while Clark is only bored by his tricks, which he sees through immediately while just letting them drop, being too used to dirty tricks that don’t touch him any more. Of course, there are some villains also, there is a tremendous gambling duel setting the finale, there is even some gunfire and an attempted suicide, but the most dramatic factor is Clark’s health condition. He suffers from Angina Pectoris, he asks his doctor how many years he has left which he refuses to answer, and he gets his attacks, always in crucial moments. There is also a great restaurant brawl, and it all adds to a brilliantly scripted film, which the main actors live up to more than well and gives a fascinating and eloquent inside view of the professional gambling world. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041127/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_18 Riso amaro (Bitter Rice, 1949) (9/10) Primitive basics in the rice fields in struggles between right and wrong, love and loyalties.

211


23 April 2019

I had heard very much about this film and particularly about Silvana Mangano's very sexy presence before finally seeing it, and was rather disappointed. Silvana is like a young Ingrid Bergman but already fallen in advance in the trap of Italian neorealistic temptation to vulgarity - she is outrageously vulgar, although innocent, while the other actress, Doris Dowling's acting, is so much better. Vittorio Gassman is very young here and gives a virtuoso performance as the villain, while Raf Vallone, vying with him in villainy, turns out ultimately sympathetic after all. The strength of the film is in its dramatic quality, the drama is almost operatic in constantly more striking effects, and all the scenes in the rice magazine are a joy to behold for the cineast. The film is slightly outdated today, the working conditions and routines of the rice field workers are a bit obsolete in their leftist proletarian tendencies, but it's a great drama and film. Silvana Mangano was only 19 at the time, this film made her a star forever, but with time it becomes more obvious that it is Doris Dowling's film more than hers. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040737/?ref_=ur_urv Act of Violence (1949) (10/10) The past calling you for a settlement with destiny - with problems 30 April 2019

This is an overwhelming study of the mechanisms of destiny and karma, of guilt and the problems of vengeance and above all a study in the injustice of fate. The problems here are overwhelmingly unsolvable. The end is no end but just another beginning of new complications. How will Janet Leigh react when Robert Ryan comes to tell her of her husband's death? The extreme paradox here is, that although Robert Ryan does not kill Van Heflin, it's his actions that lead to his death, and he must be held responsible for it. Of course, Van Heflin pays dearly for his own guilt, he pleads guilty from the start and refuses to let his wife contact the police to stop Robert Ryan from harassing them and threatining them with a gun with an obvious intention of murder, and the most harrowing scene of all is when Van Heflin runs screaming through the tunnel, re-experiencing his trauma when he tried to stop Robert Ryan from using the tunnel. This is blatant trauma all the way, and Robert Ryan enhances it almost to unendurability by his creepy limp and eloquently desperate character. Van Heflin always made great performances, but this is perhaps his very greastest. Let's not forget Mary Astor as the catcher in the rye. Another reviewer confused her here with Myrna Loy, but it is Mary Astor all right, in one of her many unforgettably mature characters. Another striking ace of this film is the wonderful cinematography, but also the script, constantly adding more characters to the drama, is in itself a masterpiece of dark preying into the labyrinths of the relentless karma making victims of us all. The film couldn't be more noir, and it must be rated as one of the supreme classics of the genre. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041088/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_19

212


The Great Madcap (El gran calavera 1949) (7/10) Domestic black comedy with very little fun 10 May 2019

The one excellent thing about this film is the music. Apart from the great and very Bunuellian finale, the film is negligeable. It is only interesting for being by Bunuel and his first film in 20 years, providing a ramp for his most interesting Mexican production, but the film has no charm, no cinematography, it's almost claustrphobically locked up indoors, the actors are all good, but, like in so many Bunuel films, the complex intrigue knots itself up into something of a mess. It is supposed to be funny, but it is not, except for the great ironic scene in the cathedral here at last Bunuel proves himself. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041423/ Stop Press Girl (1949) (8/10) Nature's protest against the age of machinery: innocence having a bad influence on any working contraption 21 May 2019

There are some priceless hilarious moments in this ambiguous comedy about a young innocent girl who happens to have a disastrous influence on any kind of machinery. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne in a number of supporting roles play an important part in adding to the comedy. The idea is actually rather serious: who has not experienced the frustration when for instance a computer just will not cooperate? And you must suspect that somehow your second thoughts could have had some influence on the inexplicable problem, which no mechanic expertise can solve. When science stands powerless and logic doesn't work, there is always superstition. The most wonderful scene in this boosting of the problem is the cinema scene, both on screen, in the audience and in the projector room (with Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne). The idea is good and made the best of, and there are plenty of hearty laughs. James Robertson Justice as an implacable dentist and Gordon Jackson as rhe incorrigible journalist add to the entertainment while Sally Ann Howe's perfect innocence is the centerpiece. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041919/ The Spider and the Fly (1949) (9/10)

213


Strange French first world war spy story with an odd twist 5 July 2019

Eric Portman is a French police inspector who is used to committing the professional bank robber Guy Rolfe, he has done that a number of times and knows him well, so when in 1916 in the middle of the war a special burglar job is needed in the German legation in Berne, Switzerland, Eric recommends Rolfe, who gets the job. The complication is that they both love the same woman, a certain Madeleine (Nadia Gray), a fact which involves some unforeseen circumstances. The story is very thought-provoking, there is a toch of tragedy to it as well, Portman and Rolfe are both at their best, and they team very well together. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041911/ Whisky Galore! (1949) (9/10) The human factor conquers all 17 July 2019

Alexander Mackendrick had a very special knack for visualizing humanity on screen, that is, for making humanity appear in its most human aspects. Here his talents in combination with Compton Mackenzie's glorious account celebrate triumphs, as a story like this couldn't possibly fail under any circumstances, but Mackendrick's special view of humanity enhances the unforgettably sympathetic impression. Even Basil Radford as the formalistic bureaucrat insisting on his pedantry at any cost ultimately appears as likeable in spite of all in all his pathetic crushing defeat. The local people carry the weight of the film, though, with leaders like Gordon Jackson and Joan Greenwood (in one of her most delicate performances as the suave telephone operator), and as it is a basically true story, the sensitive filming endows the entire film with an almost documentary character. All characters seem authentic, they are all true, and this is one of those classic comedies you could actually watch any number of times in any decade, giving pleasure every time. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042040/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 City Across the River (1949) (9/10) "Just a rotten corpse in the gutter" - a study in the gang psychology, extremely relevant for all times 21 September 2019

No matter how depressing this film appears to begin with, it's a great film and much ahead of its time. It's like a documentary probing the gang mentality of youngsters

214


getting brought up to become good fellas and worse, and there are many aspects to the drama, one being that of the teachers, who really have a hard time and sometimes can't control their own classes. It's a social drama as well, Thelma Ritter has a poignant part as the worried mother, and Frankie's little sister has an important part also. Everything about the film is professional, and they are all convincing, from the poor people of the shabby back streets of Brooklyn to the policemen, the gangsters, and most striking of all is perhaps the character of "Crazy" whose real name is Theodore (Joshua Shelley), a fantastic clown with a penchant for cruelty. Tony Curtis has only a small minor part but is already Tony Curtis - it's like a hint at a prelude to his later great appearances. The final great dancing hall scene when things are getting really hot is a masterpiece in itself of polyphony bringing out all the true colours of the major actors including the leading gangster, fabulously contrasted against the fervent musicians and their frenzied music. Although I hesitated if I would see it through at all because of its dark depressive elements, I was finally deeply impressed - a great documentary film like all those "Naked City" films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041251/ Battleground (1949) (10/10) Desperate conditions of winter warfare dealing with an invisible surrounding enemy 9 October 2019 William Wellman has again and again surprised me with his outstanding and overwhelming realism, especially in his films after the war and concerning the war, like "The Iron Curtain" (1948) as the first real more than documentary feature of what Soviet communism under Stalin really was. This "Battleground" film is an equally totally true story and made with even more consistent realism of the terrible conditions of warfare in the battle of the Bulge around Christmas 1944, when the Germans hit back for real for the last time, with constant bad weather, mud and snow and fog that never lifts. Van Johnson makes an unforgettable leading character as he throughout the first part of the film makes heroic efforts to boil some plundered eggs in his helmet, which constantly are interrupted by new turns of the warfare. So there are a number of humourous incidents as well in this film as there are unavoidable unfathomable tragedies. It's a great film and perhaps, together with his earler "The Story of G.I.Joe", the best and truest film of the second world war. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041163/?ref_=nv_sr_2?ref_=nv_sr_2 State Secret (1949) (9/10) Getting into trouble by not knowing what patient you are operating on.

215


13 November 2019

This is impressingly well done as everything in it is totally convincing, especially the language specially constructed for this film - it sounds a little bit like Romanian and some Yugoslav languages but is neither of them. Glynis Johns is the most impressing acting contribution here, while Jack Hawkins is superb as a superior leader in charge as usual, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr is exactly the right type for the naĂŻve doctor who is called on to operate on a dictator without knowing it before it's too late. The story is a nail-biting thriller of high tension and suspense, and I am sure even Hitchcock would have been impressed here. The finale in the mountains is a special treat, and the surprises on the way never cease to pile up in constant up-turning of the intrigue. I saw it more than 50 years ago, ever since then I have been looking forward to seeing it again, and it was no disappointment. On the contrary. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042522/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 A Run for the Money (1949) (9/10) Welsh greenhorns getting through London alive in spite of all 18 January 2020

In London they get into every conceivable sort of mess and trouble, and it's difficult to say what finally saves them, if it is Alec Guinness the garden journalist who finally is rewarded by prison for his valiant honesty, of if it is Hugh Griffith the old alcoholic harpist, who kind of saves his fellow Welshmen by saving his harp, even if that one gets a hard tilme getting through alive or intact as well. At least he actually saves the film and makes it memorable and something you would love to return to for a revisit at times, it's a film well worth seeing several times, and this is not the only film he has saved: in a way, he saved every film he was in, at least to a considerable degree. Donald Houston is the honest Welshman who in his innocence does everything wrong and is too kind not to get the least suspicious about the characters who try to frame him. It's a muddled story full of anxiety, where everything constantly goes wrong, while the wonderful Welsh choir singing keeps up the good spirit of the film throughout in spite of the terrible ordeals - the poor Welsh fellows do everything they shouldn't and always get deeper into trouble for it, while without Alec Guinness they probably never would have got out of London alive. His performance is outstanding already here, an honest journalist who just wishes to stick to his gardening, while his chief bullies him into this inextricable Welsh mess. In spite of all the worries and ordeals and troubles without end, it's an impressing comedy of tremendous documentary value for showing life in London at the time. And the singing, with all the music, is formidable thorughout, while the prize goes to Hugh Griffith. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041831/ Night Unto Night (1949) 216


(9/10) Viveca Lindfors in exquisite beauty taking on an epileptic case for life It was a positive surprise to see Ronald Reagan and Broderick Crawford for once in serious roles, Broderick Crawford playing an interesting artist with psychological insight and making great art, Ronald Reagan battling with personal problems of exacerbating epilepsy, which puts him off to a degree that he wants to kill himself. Well, Viveca is there to avert his attention from death to life, and she understands him, as she herself has battled with death all her life since her husband died at sea and at war, which trauma she has desperately tried to survive by constantly imagining his return in her dreams, going so far that she actually hallucinates hearing him. The question is what is true and what is self-suggestion. There are a few doctors as well, and although they don't play any great parts, they are necessary for the context, and they are both very knowledgeable, as they admit they know nothing. Above all, the film is beautiful with marvellous cinematography, Franz Waxman's music is among his best, Viveca Lindfors is as good as ever and as beautiful as a dream, while the other lady does her best to drag the whole story down. There is a storm in the end which eventually brings everything to some positive settlement. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039660/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) (10/10) Possibly the very summit of British comedy 26 March 2020

This is one of the most elegant comedies ever made, unsurpassed in its wit and eloquence and ingenuity of intrigue. The acting is superb, it must be Dennis Price's best film, and Joan Greenwood is always irresistible. This was before Alec Guinness had become something great, but he is preparing well enough in his matchless impersonations of seven members of the same ducal family. Miles Malleson adds the usual quaint comedy character of an absurd outsider, as he always does, Valerie Hobson provides the style and female beauty of the drama, while the heart of the matter is the script in its wonderful treatemnt of the language and dialogue. Although the theme is outrageously immoral and impossible, you must love this film for its very high quality of intellectual sport, which the dialogue sustains all the way. It all leads to the final three dfifferent options of the released prisoner, and it is impossible to guess which one he will choose. We are left hanging in the air forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041546/ In a Lonely Place (1950)

217


(10/10) Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame locked up in an abyss of suspicion – and released at too high a price. This could be Humphrey Bogart's best performance, as a totally unpredictable genius capable of anything with a hidden war record of unknown atrocities, and the many hints at his earlier life as a soldier provides the key to this very interesting character, a man of infinite resources both physically and mentally but not able to control himself. Although you must take for granted from the beginning that he didn't do it, you can't evade getting more suspicious all the time, since everything about him testifies to his capacity of doing something absolutely beyond his control and any motivation, and the scene where he almost kills a guy on the road he has a traffic incident with must raise total alarm. Although you disagree with Captain Lochner, the criminal inspector, for his obstinate and almost obsessive inclination to link Humphrey with the pointless unmotivated murder, you gradually realize he can't do otherwise. Also I have never seen Gloria Grahame more to her advantage, although, just like Humphrey, she is always outstanding. Here, above all, she is more beautiful than ever and the perfect ideal dream for a creative romantic savage like Humphrey's character. What especially adds to the magic, tension and suspense of the film, though, is George Antheil's deeply mesmerizing music, which fills the film with dark and spellbinding moods. It's actually a tragedy, it is gradually built up by no one's intention but only by circumstances of chance, and although everybody goes wrong no one can help it – it's like an inevitable web of destiny, and although it's well set for a happy end at last, everything turns out to the opposite, ending in a big awful question mark, which at best it could lead to a new beginning. The war is over, victory is there, but everything has been devastated in the process. And the tragedy is entirely that of the complex war veteran character so perfectly made real by Humphrey Bogart in all its unfathomable abyss of no return from the loneliest place in the world, the hopelessness of your own fate. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042593/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Francesco – giullare di dio (1950) (10/10) Basic neo-realistic cinematography at its best applied to express the essence of humanity This is the true St. Francis, in humblest simplicity and poetical basics. All other St. Francis films fall flat to this slightly comic, episodic, rhapsodic and haphazard collection of idyllic insights in the lives of the humblest of saints and his equally lovable followers. Already the first scene sets the tone, as the friars come walking home towards Assisi after having been blessed and accepted as an order by the pope, and they splosh around in the mud and the rain with their bare feet, which they keep unshod throughout the film. They are all amateurs (like in most outstanding Italian films of this period), there is hardly one professional actor, and if there is you have to look for him, but they are all perfectly convincing and couldn't have acted better in sincerity and truthfulness – it's all solid gold of human basic reality and purity. Rossellini made himself famous with "Rome – Open City" five years earlier, which made Ingrid Bergman abandon Hollywood to instead come filming with him, and 218


seeing this film you understand the attraction. There is no Hollywood here, no artifice, no make-believe, no stardom, no luxury and garish show-off, just simple humanity. It's a masterpiece indeed, and the question is if it's not even more outstanding as such in its very basic black and white medieval neo-realism than even the acknowledged masterpiece "Rome – Open City". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042477/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Les enfants terribles (1950) (8/10) Chamber drama of horrors of relationships deteriorating into possessiveness 6 July 2017

Technically a cineastic masterpiece with some excellent acting, particularly on the part of Nicole Séphane, but this Greek drama of a family and some young people living together with relationship complications doesn’t give an altogether good taste in your mouth. Why are people usually so mean and cruel in French films? There is very little humanity here, love is not sincere, Elisabeth is callous and cruel and actually evil in her possessiveness, it’s like one of the worst novels ov Balzac (of whom Charlotte Brontë complained that he always gave her such a bad taste in her mouth), and this lack of humanity gives this masterpiece an ugly touch of almost inhumanity. Its brilliance fades into the shadows of the meaningsless of its cruelty and pettiness, they don’t do much else than quarrel and fight throughout the movie, and it all seems so pointless. Did Jean Cocteau have any meaning with writing this play except to produce a technically perfect analysis of how young people perish in the destructiveness of their relationships? The language, the photo, the acting, the music, everything is perfect but is consumed by its own pettiness in a dwindling spiral of human claustrophobia. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042436/?ref_=nv_sr_1 So Long at the Fair (1950) (10/10) David Tomlinson gets lost in Paris during the world exhibition of 1889 with dire complications 24 March 2017

Brilliant thriller of suspense increasing all the way, until the absurd mystery ends up in a most surprising explanation. The best mysteries are the deepest and most inexplicable ones that all the same finally reveal a most logical solution. Jean Simmons' situation is really quite upsetting, she couldn't be more helpless in her predicament, but fortunately there is Dirk Bogarde at hand in a typical role of his as an English painter in Paris. The French people are also quite convincing, and fortunately they even speak French. It's easy for a foreigner to get lost in Paris with always strange things going on and bodies being fished up from the Seine almost every other day, and here there is even a world exhibition going on with the 219


premiere of the Eiffel Tower and an awful balloon accident on top of that disposing of a key witness to add to poor Jean Simmons troubles... It's an ingenious intrigue, and every detail is important. It's vital that you don't miss anything of what is said in any conversation, since every piece in this puzzle is indispensable to the whole picture. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042980/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Astonished Heart (1950) (9/10) Interesting study in the psychosis of a psychiatrist because of love 21 June 2017

Noel Coward as a psychiatrist deceives his wife Celia Johnson with Margaret Leighton, who doesn't really love him, which unsettles him completely when he realizes the most elementary of facts of love, namely that passion must pass. The acting is admirable throughout, Celia Johnson is always reliable as a stable character of a wife, Margaret Leighton is as doubtful as ever, she is expert at dubious roles, and Noel Coward, who also wrote both the script and the music for the film, makes a very thorough suitable case for treatment – his major scene is when he reveals to his patient who the real patient is. Like so many of Coward's plays, it's almost trivial in its exposure of very common human dilemmas, a love affair easily topples over into uncontrollable passion and most usually does, but one would have expected a psychiatrist to be able to remain in control. As he gives a lecture in the beginning of the film, he expounds on this very necessity, as he discovers Margaret Leighton in the audience and is faced by the abyss of his own weakness. The music doesn't stick, but it illustrates the whole drama perfectly, adding even more emotion to it. This is not Noel Coward's best film or performance, but it's not his worst either but well up to his reliable standard. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041134/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) (10/10) Dana Andrews grappling with dark fate, abhorrent mobsters and finding Gene Tierney. 29 May 2015

Splendid virtuoso noir film of only superior qualities right through, while names like Ben Hecht as the script writer, Otto Preminger's direction, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews guarantee something truly worth while. The story is typically bleak: a police officer will do anything to clear himself from the stain of his father's criminal record and constantly overdoes it, and it's his melancholic destiny this film is all about. Does he get through as an honest man, although he commits terrible mistakes? His comfort is Gene Tierney, who stands by him mainly because of his flaws. Above all, the script is brilliant in its subtlety, an intricate web of destiny's awesome mechanisms, which reach an impressing finale with Andrews' final

220


confrontation with the typically abominable villain chief, who doesn't deserve anything less than being butchered, which Andrews is indeed entitled to do, but, of which Andrews is the expert, he has to control himself although you can feel his inside fury. Top score, especially for its atmospheric settings and brilliant script. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043132/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Last Holiday (1950) (10/10) Timeless story and wisdom about the plays of life and death. 4 April 2015

The first time I saw this film it made an impression for life, and it still does, its story belonging to timelessness in its simple but all-encompassing wisdom displaying almost a documentary about the facts of life and death, how to relate with them when it comes to a crisis and how unfathomably and relentlessly it will reveal yourself when everything is put on an edge. It's J.B.Priestley's most brilliant story that couldn't have been better realized than by Alec Guinness (in perhaps his finest and most sensitive acting ever on film) and Kay Walsh managing to make a heart of gold convincing under a hard surface of obviously too much hard experience. All the guests at the hotel add to the fantastic setting of an ideal community brought together by the mysterious crisis, that everyone feels but no one can understand, probably even less when destiny strikes home and reveals the full unalterable truth – when all the cards are on the table, everyone is even more at a loss than when they were wandering lost in a mystery. This is a beautiful film for all times and ages with a story that could have been written by an aged and saged Oscar Wilde in its profound brilliance of wit and invention. The key to the whole thing is set from the beginning by the strange detail of the blind fiddler – Alec Guinness' reaction when the surprise is repeated is unforgettable, and his long face couldn't be more convincing. The film is full of details like this, though, and each time you see it, you make more delightful discoveries. Perfect story, perfect psychology, perfect and unforgettable display of how the whims of destiny make fools of us all – with perhaps something learned on the way. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042665/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Clouded Yellow (1950) (8/10) Trevor Howard at the rescue of Jean Simmons, both running for it. 11 September 2016

I am not quite happy about this film – it's too much of a cliché patchwork, like a good but nevertheless obvious paraphrase on Hitchcock. There is nothing wrong with Jean Simmons and Trevor Howard, they are both always reliable in any film they played in, and I don't think they worked together in any other film.

221


It all starts very well and interestingly with a failed secret agent stranded at the mercy of his sinister employer who can't tolerate one single mistake, turning his failed agent to cataloging butterflies, just to keep him safely out of the way. Unfortunately for him, a murder occurs in his vicinity, and the one who is obviously totally innocent and incapable of it comes under suspicion because of her rumoured mental instability. Jean Simmons makes this character quite convincing and interesting, demonstrating openly her weakness without blushing, and Trevor appears as the knight in shining armour committing himself to rescuing her by taking her along on a great escape up and down all northern England. It's a spectacular escape indeed, but it obfuscates the more interesting psychology of the relationships turning the film more into a superficial entertainment, with great effects, of course, but when the murderer finally is exposed it all humanly falls flat. It's so obvious that the audience from the beginning has been led astray by being forced to suspect another. Well, well, nevertheless, it's great entertainment, and that at least is something. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042333/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Under My Skin (1950) (10/10) "Are you even running out of places to leave?" 25 November 2017

This is a much underrated and almost unknown and forgotten crown jewel among the Hemingway screenings, and it's an odd one out for Hemingway, as it's an unusual character prying into the depths of a heel fighting it out with destiny for his honour, which he has been losing all his life. We never get to know anything about his background, why he can't talk of America, let alone go back, and Micheline Presle, who appears to know all about him throughout from the beginning, treats him like poison. It's the boy that saves everything, he is the only thing he has to live for, and it's for him he finally risks his life to save his honour. At least he saves one of them. Micheline Presle makes a very convincing appearance as one of Hemingway's most hard-boiled women, out-shadowing even Ava Gardner by her hard experience and relentless attitude, which only the boy can soften and only by his absolute honesty of innocence. Even when the father hits him and treats him with flamboyant treachery, the boy continues to believe in him and trust him, and the departure scene at the station, when he sends the boy away by train, with its following scenes, is heartrending and the apex of the film, culminating with Micheline's singing performance, almost as poignant as Edith Piaf. This is a great film in its dire human realism, the story of a greater conflict and more difficult battle than any war, of a man struggling with impossible odds for an impossible honour out of reach, and how he gets through with it after all. John Garfield is almost even better here than in "The Breaking Point" on Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not", the better and later version than Bogart's, here he plays an equally doubtful character posed against impossible odds, but here 222


the addition of the boy and that relationship suddenly gives John Garfield's dubious character an ocean of interesting depth.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042005/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Man who Cheated Himself (1950) (8/10) Cherchez la femme, especially her actual motives, here ending up into a big question mark. 11 January 2018

The question that must arise from the beginning,m and which turns this movie doubtful from the start, is how such an experienced and qualified detective as Lee J. Cobb could allow himself to be lead by such a woman to his own bad end? He must realize from the beginning that it must be impossible at length to get away with such a cover up. All the same, it's an interesting intrigue, the plot is formidable as Lee must perform a complicated double play which is bound to constantly get more difficult, but what saves the film is the tremendous finale. Hitchcock must have been inspired by this set-up at Fort Point under the great bridge with its fantastic opportunities for a thriller finale. There are many details adding to an excellent thriller, like her scarf blowing off in the end, the Italian family incident, the great introductory scene with its opening the door to any possible crime that only can be guessed at - and which leads to crime that no one wanted to commit. Lee J. Cobb's foolery is questionable, but the film is great in spite of its foibles and should be worth restoring to its original quality indeed. Woman on the Run (1950) (9/10) Sore trial of a wife with her husband on the run with a heart failure 24 February 2018

An interesting story with a convulsive finale: Frank Johnson, who walking his dog unvoluntarily becomes the witness of a murder, doesn't want anything to do with the police, so he is the real one on the run. As he absconds, the police set on his wife instead, who cannot help them, as she actually knows nothing about her husband: a curious marriage, one might say. He is even reluctant to admitting she is his wife, and when asked if he is married, he answers only vaguely, like "sort of". Thus Ann Sheridan becomes the lead and completely domintes the film, as she also is hounded by the police for being married to an escaped eyewitness, but she shakes them all off, except one reporter, who never lets her alone. His shadowing her ends up in a situation that must be described as the worst possiblke you could ever find yourself in alive and with no way out. The film is worth seeing only for this very

223


dramatic finale, which you will never forget. It's actually a B-film, but the finale lifts it up many categories. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043142/

Tripoli (1950) (7/10) Maureen O'Hara and John Payne fighting each other again more than the war. 25 February 2018

This would not have been worth much seeing if it hadn't been for the expedition made from upper Egypt down to Libya with hardships and sandstorms and other frustrating complications along the way by Qattara (Remember "Ice Cold in Alex?" This was 140 years earlier.). This is the realistic part of the film, and it is the more interesting for taking place in 1805 - the war in question is that against Napoleon, which is never mentioned. Maureen O'Hara is a stranded countess courted by a local prince, John Payne runs into her by chance and gets trouble with her from the start, so it seems he just seeks her out to have someone to quarrel with. It's the usual story. Their quarrel and nagging goes on throughout the film until it's time for them to focus their interest on more important matters, like a navy which doesn't want to take orders from John Payne. The military battle in the end is just the usual tearing down the whole city stone by stone after first demolishing the interiors of every palace worth some sight-seeing. Howard de Silva saves the show as an intrepid Greek captain with a company of his own, and hardly anyone of the Americans would have survived without his contribution. It was the first time the American flag was planted outside the States and unfortunately not the last time. A silly story made as spectacular as possible and saved only by history and adventure, but the music throughout is excellent. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043072/ One Way Street (1950) (10/10) James Mason as a disillusioned doctor finding life with the beauty of Marta Toren. 25 February 2018

James Mason has made many doctors on the screen, and they are all very thorough and interesting characters with some depth and usually some terrible problems, and this is no exception, but still this doctor is something different from the others. There is no suicidal tendencies here, no deadly jealousy and no call for some hero to engage and interfere, but rather an appointment with the inevitable. He is actually doomed from the beginning and aware of it, and he accepts the challenge and adapts himself to its consequences, while the lovely Marta Toren gilds it with her charming presence and personality, a fugitive from somewhere whom a gangster brought up (the

224


always nasty and revolting brute Dan Duryea) for something of an ideal to himself, while she needs something better provided by James Mason. The first scene is actually one of the most exciting in all the chonicles of the noirs, in unbearable suspension all the way up to the first inevitable car crash - there will be others. Also that first street of only one way will come back later. There are many other gripping ingredients as well, the role of the padre, the village life, the local hoodlums and their berserk folly, the beautiful environment in contrast to the smoky and rainy gangster stinking darkness, and Frank Skinner's excellent music, perfectly suited to both the romantic situations and the pastoral idylls of Mexico. In brief, it's a typical James Mason noir, and it could hardly be more typical. He played the same kind of character any number of times, but every time it's equally fascinating in its unfathomably attractive tragedy. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042809/ The Black Rose (1950) (9/10) General Orson Welles conquering China with Tyrone Power and Jack Hawkins with a girl in the way 12 March 2018

The most interesting character here is Jack Hawkins as the bowman in his unpredictable shifts of moods and expressive diction - it's a pleasure just hearing him talk in every scene he is in. Orson Welles dominates, of course, as he always does, this time as a conquering khan with the ambition to subjugate all China and after that Rome and England, in which scheme he tries to interest and engage Tyrone Power, who almost falls for it. The story is great although somewhat muddled as Tyrone Power never knows what he really wants, which vacillation reaches a climax when he gets a girl on his hands in his sleeping tent. Another interesting character is Michael Rennie as the King, stately and sympathetic as ever, and also Finlay Curries as the grandfather, greatly enhancing the interest of every scene in which he is present. The most fascinating part of the film though is the visualization of the Silk Road, as the caravan travels from somewhere in the Orient, could be Cairo or Baghdad, all the way across the deserts and mountains to China, and the caravan scenes are spectacular to say the least. Also the scenes from China are interesting with their snapshots of court life and the Chinese character trembling at the mercy of the awful conqueror and resorting mainly to superstition for its only defense.

225


It's a kind of English Marco Polo spectacle, with books, paper, compass and gunpowder and all that, and it is very well made. Henry Hathaway was qualified enough to turn out this masterpiece of a romantic oriental epic to be remembered. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042256/?ref_=tt_urv The Big Lift (1950) (9/10) Love among the ruins of Berlin during the blockade of 1948. 24 April 2018

An interesting almost documentary film of the Berlin blockade in 1948 made on location with all the ruins and hardships of the Berliners. Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas have very different experience of their sojourn in Berlin among the ruins as they get involved with dames of a very different sort. Paul Douglas hates Germans and has reasons to, he even reaches a settlement, while Montgomery Clift, young and fresh and green, becomes deeply involved in the plight of the Berliners and forms a warm attachment to a German woman with consequences. The documentary part of the film is what makes it well worth seeing for all ages, the life among the ruins, the struggle to survive, the espionage going on already in 1948, the Russian spy plays an important part and the most orginal one, and some scenes you will never forget, for instance when Montgomery's girl digging in the ruins to clean up the mess of the city, takes a rest, and a part of the house crumbles and falls behind her, while she just doesn't care... There were a number of films like this. Carol Reed's "The Third Man" was one of them, in the ruins of Vienna, "The Man Between" also by him was a few years later also in Berlin when the wall already was there but not yet in bricks, and there was one with Gene Kelly and Pier Angeli about surviving Nazis, all bitter love affairs coming to more ruins than already the bombed ones... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042249/?ref_=ur_urv Odette (1950) (10/10) Tragedies of freedom fighters with some glorious moments and survivals 27 June 2018

Painstaking reconstruction of lost heroes of the war in an almost documentary character, in this case the French resistance organized from England with a quite ordinary woman as the main link and foundation of the operations, as she as an ordinary woman is best fit not to attract attention. When she is asked to volunteer she has no experience whatsoever, an ordinary woman with three children

226


separated from her husband, whom we never hear a word of throughout the film. Instead there is Trevor Howard as a certain Peter Churchill as the other main link in the operations together with Peter Ustinov as the indispensable radio operator. He is caught and killed by the Gestapo, which you learn already in the beginning of the film, but you never see it happen. Instead you see the full torture sessions and ordeals of Trevor Howard and Anna Neagle. It certainly is one of her best performances, the direction by Herbert Wilcox is completely natural all the way, and Anthony Collins has provided the film with discreet but eloquent music perfectly suited to the action; but the perhaps most interesting performance is that of the dubious Marius Goring as the Abwehr man, who like Canaris is well aware of the fallacy of Hitler's regime and continuosly seeks a way out of the war dilemma but falls in with the tragedy and must take the consquences of being part of it. It's a gripping film of the unknown heroes of the war that never reached any public acknowledgement, while they were the ones who risked their lives more than most and often lost it. Still, this is also a film of survival against all odds by sheer obstinacy and refusal to cooperate with a dictatorship. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043871/?ref_=ur_urv They Were Not Divided (1950) (10/10) The story of two soldiers from after Dunkirk to the Ardennes 19 July 2018

This early Terence Young film is a unique masterpiece of its kind. It tells a true story of two soldiers getting trained and fighting together from after Dunkirk up to the battle of the Ardennes, that is four years, giving a very natural and meticulous account of their lives and comrades, their jokes, their life in the barracks, their girls and wifes and sweethearts, their dreams and their every day existence at war, at the front, at the pub, at some parties - a film couldn't almost be more humanly documentary. In addition, the direction is superb all the way, perfectly natural, the pace is constantly efficient and sustained the whole way, it doesn't really tell a story, it just follows the soldiers around everywhere, the dialogue is intensive the whole way, and it is not until the last scenes when it all comes together and proves an overwhelming masterpiece. This is a film to watch again. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043039/?ref_=tt_urv The Golden Salamander (1950) (9/10) Erupting corruption in Tunisia by the sea with a romance

227


15 August 2018

The most curious asset of this film is a very young and irresistible Anouk AimĂŠe ("Anouk") as the innocent girl who is totally unaware of what is going on although her boyfriend is deeply mixed up in it, which makes her worried without knowing for what. As it happens, the archaeologist Trevor Howard enters and makes things happen in this off-side village in Tunisia where corruption flourishes, in which everyone is involved. It is therefore a rather unpleasant film, with Herbert Lom as villainous as ever, and Miles Malleson as inimtable as ever as the local chief of police, who isn't quite as innocent as he should be either. It all amounts to a bloody mess of troubles mainly for Trevord Howard himself, and it might seem objectionable that he falls for la belle Anouk while he knows the truth about her boyfriend, in whose case his meddling didn't quite work oui as he had intended. A key figure is Wilfred Hyde-White, constantly sitting drunk by the piano playing the wonderful "Clopin Clopant" and saying very little but in the end doing what is needed to resolve a hopeless situation just by a very small hint. He was never better, although he always was a crown jewel in every film he was in. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043594/ The Edge of Doom (1950) (10/10) A study in compassion 29 August 2018

This is Farley Granger's film, who plays a young man who couldn't get into deeper personal trouble as the only son of a dying widow, whose husband committed suicide and was denied a proper burial for that reason by the local catholic church in a very poor and dark urban district. The film is introduced by one of the catholic priests in the parish earnestly pleading to be transferred from what he considers a hopeless district of only hopeless cases. The environment is not very cheerful indeed, the house in which Farley Granger lives with his dying mother is a constant din of quarrels and domestic noise, where practically every neighbour can hear what goes on and is said in every other apartment in the house. Farley Granger's salary is barely enough to keep their noses above water, and he has a girl-friend who also is suffering from Farley's shortcomings with constant hard work and very little time for seeing each other. Under these dire circumstances the mother dies, and all Farley wants is to give her a decent funeral. He loses his job, the local priest dismisses him, and so the tragedy gets started going constantly from bad to worse with Farley Granger lost in a maze of adversities, calamities and injustice worsened by himself in his despair. It's a fantastic impersonation by Farley Granger to make this character completely convincing in his black hole of hell with no way out. All he has is his dead mother, and as he finally visits her dead body at the chapel in preparation for the funeral, there is someone to understand him.

228


It has been called the most depressive and dark of noirs, but it is actually uplifting, and Dana Andrews is there to take care of the pearl in the slime of the pigs. Every detail in the film adds to its down-to-earth realism with almost only dark scenes in the streets or at the morgue and other dark places apart from the ramshackle slum apartment, but the pearl is there and keeps shining and staying with you after the film is over. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042428/?ref_=ur_urv Borderline (1950) (7/10) Claire Trevor and Fred MacMurray in a phoney marriage smuggling drugs out of Mexico chased by hoodlums 2 September 2018

You have to wait long for a dramatic settlement with shoot-outs in this film, but there will be some in the end. There are many flaws in the script before then, and Fred MacMurray is for some reason never convincing as anything else than something of a phoney - at least in my opinion. Claire Trevor is not convincing either as a rather gleeful phoney glamour girl, both are playing double parts, and only Raymond Burr is quite convincing as the complete crook. Best is perhaps the music by Hans J. Salter, which saves the film. There are some interesting turnings of the plot, but this is definitely not a noir, unless you regard it as a phoney noir. This is entertainment, a criminal comedy and good enough as such, but if you have any expectations at all you will be disappointed. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042274/ No Way Out (1950) (10/10) Racism bomb starting at a hospital with a coloured doctor and a white patient dying in his care 27 September 2018

A coloured doctor is obliged to operate a wounded hoodlum, who dies on the operating table. His brother, also wounded, lies beside him and is a fierce racist, who gets the fixed idea that the coloured doctor (Sidney Poitier in his first major film) killed his brother on purpose. There it begins, gradually leading to avalanches of troubles, also involving the deceased gangster's former wife Linda Darnell. The surviving hoodlum is Richard Widmark. so you are set on a dynamited course of events. This is not one of Joe Mankiewicz' most famous films but definitely one of his best. It is far ahead of its time and very bold in bringing forth the horrible clot of racism 229


problems. The acting is superb, and almost everyone is more than impressing, so it's difficult to decide who is the best, but Richard Widmark in his desperate villainy is overhelming in his fanatical pain, and Linda Darnell's character displays a depth you never thought she was capable of. This was only the first of Sidney Poitier's many recurring reasonable arguments. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042792/ The Fall of Berlin (1950) (1/10) One of the worst political turkeys 1 June 2019

A Russian version of the fall of Berlin, made from a Russian point of view? It sounded interesting, and I was lookiong forward to it, but was in for quite a surprise. This is not a film but explicit propaganda, obviously orchestrated by Stalin himself, because it is like Stalin's film about himself, glorifying himself and using the second world war as the means for boosting himself and his personal cult. I have seldom seen anything so abominable. It's even worse than the Nazi propaganda films, that followed the same pattern, using the roles of simple people to underscore the political message, promoting one-sided partiality and depicting all "not of the same creed" as monsters - the grotesque caricature of Hitler, shown as mad all the time, is even worse than the twisted portrayal of him in the first parts of "Winds of War". This is all bullshit, abusing the art of the cinema for political purposes of the worst kind, preaching the fanaticism of autocracy. Shame on anyone who shows such a film. It made me sick. Unfortunately it is neither ridiculous nor funny in its absurdity. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041727/ Three Came Home (1950) (9/10) Claudette Colbert and other women and children in Japanese prison camps 17 July 2019

Nunnally Johnson and Jean Negulesco is a good combination for making a great and good film, which this one certainly is with its grim realism of the Japanese prison camps on Borneo during the war, Claudette Colbert making as convincing and delicate a performance as always, and Patrick Knowles seconding her as her husband; but the real and most interesting character here is Sessue Hayakawa as Colonel Suga running the camp with integrity and authority and showing some polite and admiring understanding for Claudette Colbert (the author Agnes Keith, who wrote the book on which the film is based with great sincerity.) It's a true story and fascinating as such, there are both some very cruel and very human and touching scenes, very much reminding of the pathos of Nevil Shute's "A Town Like

230


Alice" screened a number of times. This is a great compliment to that drama and shows another side of it, with perhaps a more human touch, as the portrait of the Japanese colonel gives the film considerable depth to both the humanity and the tragedy of the tale. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043041/ Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) (7/10) Corruption galore on all levels of society 19 July 2019

The film is perfect but terrible. It's all about corruption, how one after the other is led to take part in a criminal racket of burglary by greed and murder, and there is only one person in the plot who opposes this and ultimately takes the law into her own hands on the right side, while all the survivors are convicted.

James Cagney may be a super hero as an actor on film in all kinds of roles, as gangster, singer, entertainer, dancer and whatever, a real multi-tasker, but he is never smpathetic. His appearance is almost alien in its cold expressionless total control of every situation, and although he gets killed in a number of films, always as gangsters deserving it, he always leaves a bad taste behind. I am sorry, but I can't remember a single film where I really liked him. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042648/ Three Secrets (1950) (10/10) Three mothers of an adopted child rescued from an air crash 24 August 2019

Everything is perfect about this film, the story, the actors, the direction, Wise at an early stage extremely efficient, and even the music, never dominating but always reflecting the right mood. This is a literary film telling the stories of three women who all had to give up their only child because of circumstances, usually related to the war: the child was born September 15th 1944, so they all got pregnant at the highlight of the war, one by a soldier who had to obey orders, and the other two by men who left them - one of them we'll never even see. At the same time, it's a great story of journalism, Patricia Neal making the almost too perfect journalist which costs her her marriage, and the insights into her handling her profession in the quest for saving the child from the top of a mountain are almost documentary in their authentic character, while at the same time it develops into somethinbg of a thriller -

231


there is even a murder here. Enough said, only superlatives, and they can only be repeated and continuously insisted on. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043045/ OrfĂŠe (1950) (10/10) The greatest play of mirrors: Orpheus' love affair with Death 11 October 2019

This is one of the most fascinating films ever made, and there are few films like it. You come to think of William Dieterle's "Portrait of Jennie" and "Lili" with Mel Ferrer and Leslie Caron, but there are few others. It is written and directed by a poet, who makes not only literary poetry but also visual poetry of the whole film in sustained creative inspiration all the way. You can see it any number of times, and you should see it again at least every ten years, because it is inexhaustible for innovative gems, and the language is as delicate as the whole film oozes of exquisite stylishness: the imagination, the context, the play with dimensions, the intriguing symbolism, this is a modern Orpheus saga placed in 1950 with cars and radios and cafĂŠ riots, policemen and modern court procedures, but all dressed up in a sieve of enigmatic mystery. It's like a dream all the way but at the same time sttrictly linked to reality, and when they walk through the terrible labyrinths between life and death, there is even a glazier walking around. The music is as exquisite as the entire film, mostly by George Auric, but there is also the dance of the blessed souls by Gluck, adding extra beauty to the wonder dream. Jean Marais is a perfect modern Orpheus, but thge one you will remember most distinctly is Maria Casares in the role of her life. Juliette Greco is also in it and makes an important character. In brief, in all its almost supernatural artifice, this is a perfect masterpiece of a film, and you can never see it enough of it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041719/ Shadow on the Wall (1950) (9/10) A child's trauma and nervous breakdown because of a shadow on the wall... 14 December 2019

A small film of a small world with a child in the centre of the action - the film proceeds from her doll house. It's a doll house story, and most of the film consists of games the little girl plays with grown-ups, as they try that way to find out what she could have seen of a mysterious murder - a jealous husband is convicted for having shot his wife to death, but he was unaware of the killing, while she was having an affair with her sister's husband, and that sister is Ann Sothern, who makes a 232


remarkable character out of her, developing from a bullied wife betrayed by her husband to finally doing something about it with very serious consequences, making her more and more nervous and feeling compelled to continuing on the way down, ruthlessly suppressing any human scruples. It is not only a good story, and very intriguing as such, but it is extremely well made, almost on the Hitchcock level, and what adds a great deal to the treat is the amazingly excellent score by Andre Previn. This is indeed a titbit especially for lovers of psychological drama, and the tension will rise throughout the film. Above all it's an indispensable study in child psychology. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042952/ Our Very Own (1950) (10/10) A family idyll disturbed by sudden revelation of facts 6 February 2020

A sensitive family story with interesting complications of relationships: What do you do when you reach your 8th birthday and suddenly find out that you are not a natural daughter but adopted, so that your sisters, who have grown up with you all these years, no longer are your true sisters? Ann Blyth handles it perfectly and never shows the shock she is in, but puts on a stiff upper lip and continues to do what she has to do for her graduation. Farley Granger is her boyfriend, and he has an important say in this, which steadies her for her final act when she is making a speech at the graduation. Jane Wyatt as the mother is also perfect, but the main thing here is the perfect acting, it is totally convincing and natural all the way, like a true drama taken directly out of life, and that makes this film invaluable. To this comes Victor Young's lovely music which couldn't fit better into the picture. This is a film to love for giving important food for considerable afterthought. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042819/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 On Dangerous Ground (1951) (10/10) Redemption from the darkest dreariness of existence into the realm of sensitive poetry. 10 December 2015

A unique film of most unexpected development, an ambiguous morality causing a confusion of afterthought, and naturally few know how to really assess this masterpiece of a mysterious noir at its best. Of course, it depends very much on what kind of character you are yourself, you will not understand it if you are not a romantic, and you will find the first part objectionable if you are. But for a psychologist, this film is a gold mine.

233


Robert Ryan was never more convincing in this sleeping volcano of a role, a policeman embittered by the constant humdrum nightmare of his job, getting more and more difficult for his colleagues to work with and having a problem with controlling his own violent outbursts. You almost expect him to go mad any moment, and his difficulty in checking this is evident and masterfully displayed. This is the kind of policeman with hidden psychopath tendencies that you have to fear the worst of. Enter Ida Lupino in one of her most sensitive and gripping roles as a blind woman, which she enacts with heartrending subtlety and convincing passion. She lifts the film from the abyss of the constant city nightmare into a level of poetry. The story that follows increases all the time in human interest and suspense. I have no objection against the ending. The amazing qualities of the film are additionally stressed and heightened by an overwhelmingly eloquent score by Bernard Herrmann, which secures a full ten point vote – this is almost like a prelude to "Vertigo". In brief, I agree with most reviewers here, that this is a hidden masterpiece that deserves some positive attention and definitely should be recommended for all times. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042707/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Cloudburst (1951) (8/10) A war veteran takes full responsibility for his own unacceptable tragedy A complicated story with many undercurrents to it, that are not plainly visible to the eye – a viewer might get confused by this intrigue, the main character being very difficult to understand. Only if you know something of the second world war and its experiences, the character that Robert Preston impersonates becomes credible. It's a very different espionage story to the usual ones. Preston is a code breaker expert and has been through quite a lot in the war, and so has his wife – you never get really into her story, but it's clear she has gone through some very difficult ordeals. For that reason, and many others, he loves her more than can be expressed, and the first part of the film with their relationship is beautifully illustrated by excellent music reminiscent of a Rachmaninov symphony. The music by Frank Spencer is outstanding throughout. When the cloudburst occurs the upsetting shock is really unsettling, especially to Robert Preston, and the romantic film turns sinister and the more so for each new turn of events. The main asset of the film is the very skillful story, which is more than intelligent, and you can't help admiring Robert Preston's character for his astuteness in managing his own intrigue. He surprises you all the time by constantly knowing more than the audience and thus leads the way into his own abyss, which is unavoidable – he admits it himself, and the audience accepts it, that he is already hopelessly a dead man for his atrocious loss.

234


It's as good a spy story as any of the great ones by Hitchcock and Carol Reed, only this is so much more sinister. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043418/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) (9/10) James Mason as the Flying Dutchman meets his final common fate with Ava Gardner. 7 March 2015

A fascinating variation on the old story of the Flying Dutchman and his eternal damnation, which only a true love can save him from, here Ava Gardner at her most intoxicating, while the Dutchman couldn't have been anyone better than James Mason, who later also played Captain Nemo, almost the same character. The film also offers some fabulous bullfighting scenes with its dances of death in some way symbolically illustrating the character of the film, which emanates into the final difficult and unresolvable issue of what death really is, if not just a gateway to another or even the eternal life? The archaeologist, who is the only one who realizes who James Mason is at an early stage, tries to solve the riddles but only succeeds in documenting them. It's a well written story by the director of other similar cases, like "The Moon and Sixpence" and "The Portrait of Dorian Gray", both with George Sanders, somewhat spiritually related with James Mason with the same kind of more bottoms than one, and this is perhaps Albert Lewin's best film, succeeding very well with his characters, especially James Mason and Ava Gardner – I don't think I ever saw her more to her advantage, and still she is not entirely sympathetic here. Her final black dress really puts the final crown on the performance. There are also some very commendable taverna scenes with flamencos and gipsies, which adds to making this half supernatural story more realistic than it is. Everything happens in a small coastal village of Spain, which you recognize from several other films for its picturesqueness, contributing essentially to the very enjoyable beauty of the scenery throughout the film. The brief appearance of Marius Goring in the beginning should not be ignored in any review – it sets the mood for the entire half melodrama, half noir, half science fiction and half occult character of timelessness of the film, which clearly was the aim of the writer/director, which he succeeds in reaching. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043899/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) (10/10) Hoffmann's fatal love stories with four ladies, all ruined by the same villain. 10 February 2015

This is one of those films you always return to, and should return to at least once a year, a phantasmagoria of artistic ambitions galore, a combined opera-ballet and film of highest technical standards of the time and well ahead of its time, receiving little

235


acclaim and understanding in 1951 but the more so the more it has aged and proved its timelessness. The sumptuous settings, the dazzling fireworks of perpetual innovation and imagination, the splendid acting by above all Robert Helpmann, Leonide Massine, Ludmila Tcherina, Pamela Brown and Moira Shearer, the brilliant choreography all the way, all this and much else must make this film a peak of its kind in film history, since filmed and danced operas are not very common, and this one never loses in style or sustainment. Operas usually suffer from long transportation sequences, it's impossible to find an opera without boring ingredients, but this one, although slow at times in its subordination to the music, never loses its grip on the presentation. It would be recommended to the viewer, though, to take a break before the second act, because the imagery is so loaded with colourful feasts for the eye as well as for the ear, so it might feel a bit thick, like too sumptuous a banquet. The only possible objection I have found to venture against this film (after having seen it three times) is Robert Rounseville as Hoffmann. His voice is wonderful and couldn't be better, but the Hoffmann character was a bit less sturdy and complacent – the extremely intensive and high–strung E.T.A.Hoffmann with constantly too many professions on his hands at the same time, all creative, was a little more delicate and liable than the very sound and solid Rounseville – but this is just a detail. The film definitely deserve ten points. A curiosity: Lazzaro Spallanzani, an important part in the first act played by Leonide Massine, was like Hoffmann himself a very real character, a medical universal genius and Hoffmann's colleague, who happened to die today (11.2) in 1799. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044103/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Sirocco (1951) (9/10) The horrible reality of civil war in Syria – in 1925, shockingly relevant today 1 March 2017

I didn't know this Bogart film existed. He called it himself "a stinker", and it's certainly one of his very darkest dramas, if not the very darkest. He plays an unusually unsympathetic character, an American business man selling weapons to rebels against the French, especially grenades, which the rebels use to (not yet suicide) bombings of innocents, especially joyful tavern guests. He is totally immoral while equally totally unpolitical, he is only there to serve himself and no one else, but his acting was almost never better. His counterpart is Lee J. Cobb, who plays an unusually honest character, we are more used to seeing him as an overbearing villain, he is here a very straight French officer in the intelligence, who immediately sees Bogart for what he is and can but despise him, wishing to have as little to do with him as possible, which intention unfortunately is thwarted by the case of his wife, the beautiful Märta Torén, whom Hollywood planned to make a second Ingrid Bergman after Ingrid's fall from Hollywood, (unfortunately Märta Torén died very young at 30 from brain hemorrhage) who is bored by Cobb's uncompromising correctness and wants to run away with Bogart.

236


The main theme of the film however is the war, the terrible civil war, which is such a cruel reality in Syria even today – this makes this film sensationally actual – we have the same problems in Syria today, bombs and grenades constantly exploding and killing innocents. There is hardly one scene in the film without the war noise of bombs exploding, and such is reality in Syria even today. The script is a marvel of complicated intelligent and interesting intrigue and quite logical all the way in all its surprising turnings. This is the main asset of the film, which is a bleak and dark nightmare journey into constantly more hopeless caverns of no escape except into deeper chaos and death. At the same time, it's a very moral film and story, honesty and good will ultimately coming through by its sheer foolish obstinacy. A film of 1951 about 1925 miraculously proves totally modern in its presentation of political problems in an Arab state, and it has been shamefully underrated and ignored. On top of that, in spite of his unattractive character, it's one of Bogart's best films and performances. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044040/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Third Visitor (1951) (8/10) A rather claustrophobic theatrical film of a vengeance masked in romance 28 July 2017

It's seldom that Bruckner's music has been used in films, the only other instance I know of is Visconti's "Senso" 1954 three years after this one, but it certainly gives a certain mood from the start of tension and doom. Although an atrocious murder is committed from the start, you even see it being done and by whom, there is no question about it, the development seems rather innocent and harmless, as there are mainly only discussions and arguments and roundabouts to divert the attention, and even the inspectors get impatient by the fooling around. But it's worth waiting for the end. You have to learn what that mishandled lady in the introduction was all about and whatever it had to do with the atrocious murder. Although nothing seems to make any sense and add up, and does so in the end after all and with a vengeance. It's a clever thriller, Sonia Dresdel keeps the suspense up all the way by most of all her sparkling dialogue, and there is a mystery figure as well, the strangely pathetic Hewson (Michael Martin Harvey), whom everyone has some apprehension of, who maybe knows too much and isn't as mad as he seems. Finally the war also plays an important part, and that's where the trauma makes a final entrance concluding this strange play of destiny and vengeance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0256432/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Lorna Doone (1951) (7/10)

237


A great novel Hollywoodised into a superficial pasticcio bereft of all lustre and realism of the novel. 24 January 2018

The painful thing about this film is the grotesque distortion of the original novel. Unfortunately, this is what Hollywood used to do with great classics in the early 50s - there are numerous examples, like for instance Henry King's "King of the Khyber Rifles" with Tyrone Power, reducing him to a puppet and the story to shambles. Here at least the surroundings are true to the book - a recklessly romantic landscape with that stupendous waterfall as the centre of the stage, the music is also very well contrived, but all the rest is just common Hollywood artifice. They try to sugar it with some swashbuckling scenes, great sword fights, a royal intrigue (missing in the novel) and villains as wicked as possible. This was not worth seeing except for the colours, the settings, the romance (more for Barbara Hale than for Richard Greene) and the characters of Charles II and Ron Randell as Tom Faggus, the only fresh touch of humour in this depthless hollowness. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043756/ Journey into Light (1951) (10/10) How deep can you fall? It doesn't matter. By grace you can fall forever. 8 February 2018

A shabby story from skid row about bums and fallen women and sanctimonious slum missions where Sterling Hayden repeatedly falls down into the gutter and stays there, turns out to be a universally interesting and overwhelmingly good story. There are moments in this film that you will remember forever. He is not a fallen priest. It's not his fault that his wife after two stillborns turns alcoholic and ruins his life and position to crown it all with a bloody suicide, which turns him naturally enough not only away from God but against God, so that he associates with the bottom layer of society, with Thomas Mitchell in a perfect role for him as an honest con man, as the desperate man has nothing else to do. The most touching and human scene of all, among the many in this deeply human film, is when the preacher can't lead the service as Viveca Lindfors, his daughter who saves the show, is in coma at the hospital, so Sterling has no choice but to stand up as leading preacher himself for the first time since his wife committed suicide. He does it reluctantly and with great hesitation, he almost stumbles up at the pulpet, but then something happens in the congregation. Dirty old men, beggars, loafers and what not are all touched by the moment of crisis at the critical condition of the girl they all love, so they all, in various ways, fall down to prayer, one bum leading the heartrending reaction. But there are many moments like this. Some moods in this film remind you of Chaplin's "City Lights" and other such extremely poetical films, for this is cinematic poetry caught and set in realism. Vittorio de Sica couldn't have done it better. You will never forget this film. 238


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043692/?ref_=nv_sr_5 Valentino (1951) (10/10) Keeping the eternal flame of the tragedy of Rudolph Valentino well sustained. 2 March 2018

Compared with Ken Russell's version 25 years later, this one is less realistic but more beautiful and true. Ken Russell wallowed in realistic detail, while the ambition of this film was to capture the dream, which it succeeds in. Eleanor Parker is at her very best as the dream woman of his life and the object of his almost sado-masochistically bitter passion, and Anthony Dexter as Valentino is convincing enough. The greatness however lies in the story, which is completely made up but nevertheless makes an impression as more true than reality. Valentino's world was after all a dream world, that was the world he conquered and subjected the whole world to and died for, as perhaps the greatest of all film legends, which both films about him, this one and Ken Russell's with Rudolph Nureyev, seem to endorse. The magic of this film is the true magic of Valentino, and you will never forget it but rather wish to see it again sometime. Like so many films of live legends, like also the Nijinsky film, it flopped but instead will constantly increase in depth of appreciation with the years. The Well (1951) (10/10) Heroic realism around an all too human incident of a lost child 14 March 2018

This film is almost like a documentary in its clearcut realism all the way, starting off at once by presenting the incident of a child accidentally falling down into a bottomless pot hole. Rumour gets around that a white man had been seen talking with her, and around the fact that the man was white and the girl coloured in a small town of 50/50 of each, a universal lynching mentality is building up, everyone wanting to beat up and destroy everyone of the other party, marvellously visualized on screen. It's worth watching the film again just to study all those faces. At the same time this should be a wonderful treat for engineers, as there is no small enterprise required to deal with the ultimate situation. At the same time the film is a glorious triumph proving that nothing is impossible, and that mere good will can overcome everything. Most wonderful is the way the situation turns from one extreme to the opposite. First everyone wants to kill each other in a universal mass hysteria of anger and hatred, and when the truth finally is discovered they all join in and want to help each other in rescuing the small 5-year old girl. It's a wonderful panorama of human nature, revealing both its worst and its best sides, while at the same time it is revealed how little is required to both turn ordinary people into a mass destructive mob and to

239


convert them all into angels just by destiny striking at the core of human nature, all rendered totally convincing in as near to documentary realism as you can get. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044202/?ref_=tt_urv Another Man’s Poison (1951) 9/10 Bette Davis and Gary Merrill in clinch and deadly duel of meanness 25 May 2018

You never hated Bette Davis so much before. She could be criminal and nasty but never quite abominable, which somehow she is brought here to become more or less against her will by too many unexpected visitors to her house, beginning with her husband, whom you never see except as dead. It's a damned tricky plot, and Val Guest was expert at such things, making a criminal intrigue as inextricable as possible in order to have the great pleasure of having it all dissolve in the most unexpected possible but percetly logical way. The Gothic atmosphere of this chamber play is gloomily enhanced by the whole thing being filmed in Bette Davis' own home, here situated far away in the desolation of the Yorkshire moors. The music also underscores the tension of the plot, and the colloquial doctor (Emlyn Williams) who knows everything beforehand, which you dont get to know until after the end, doesn't make things easier for anyone. Only the young couple (Anthony Steel and Barbara Murray) get away unharmed, while the most upsetting case and victim of injustice of all is, as the doctor clearly points out, a horse. It's a major display of meanness and super-excellent as such, but in all these towering passions of possessive love you despondently miss and lack the faintest shade of any human varmth and tenderness. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044364/?ref_=ur_urv The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) (10/10) Caught in jams of destiny among ghosts and stealthy intrigues 1 June 2018

Valentina Cortese and Richard Baseheart make this film together with a superb script an ace of films. Only the introduction to the story is gripping enough, the familiar situation of displaced persons in refugee camps after the war, here two ladies, one dying, the other desperate enough to do anything to take a chance. Valentina takes a chance and gets from the frying-pan into the fire, but in a completely different world - from the atrocious misery of concentration camps to webs of intrigue in the riches and luxuries of high society in California.

240


Robert Wise was always one of the most reliable of directors, while he never repeated himself - it's astounding how different the character of every one of his films is from all the others. Here we find ourselves in a thriller like in "The Spiral Staircase" but with more interesting human relationships, as you walk in blindness among the manoeuvring characters as much as Valentina does, and you can only suspect the worst of almost every one of them - except the real perpetrator. Only in the last scene the real drama is revealed, and the only one who understood it all from the beginning was the dead woman in the portrait, who triumphs. It's a film of outstanding eloquence both in intrigue, dialogue, cinematography and above all direction. Even the music couldn't be better. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043660/ The Racket (1951) (8/10) Gangsters and policemen with shootouts as usual 14 June 2018

This is a surprisingly disappointing film for being a hardboiled noir about ruthless gangsters and established corruption. The leading gangster is Robert Ryan, who definitely dwarfs the quiet but pertinacious leading policeman Robert Mitchum, who is more calculating and subtle and therefore wins, while Robert Ryan is carried off guard by his own roughness. Ryan dominates the acting, though. But the one person who makes the film interesting at all is Lizabeth Scott with her suave voice and shifting standing, leaving you wondering where she really is, until she is forced by circumstances to land on one side. There is a great finale at the police station, which doesn't save the film from regular mediocrity. Only Lizabeth Scott makes it a little more than that. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043955/?ref_=ur_urv Fourteen Hours (1951) (10/10) All New York getting mobilized in a potential suicide case 14 July 2018

This is Richard Baseheart's film, making one of his many very odd characters, of which this one may be the most spectacular. Although he really doesn't appear in many scenes, the show is actually stolen by all the others, especially by Paul Douglas, who makes one of his best performances as well, - the scenes in which Richard really acts couldn't be more convincing of a man at the end of his tether, his life in ruins, his character shattered from the beginning, all shaking nerves and capable of being fatally upset by any unpleasant detail. Agnes Moorehead plays his mother, and

241


although she is not much seen either, she makes a tremendous dominance of her part. Out of a small incident, Henry Hathaway makes an overwhelming epic of almost universal dimensions, as almost all New York gets involved. As the film states in the end, this happens almost every day, people and authorities, the police and fire brigade are used to it and know how to handle it, which doesn't make it less of a fatally dramatic emergency every time it does happen. Even though the police and firemen are all professionals and know what to do, nothing can stop mistakes from being committed, and here a tremendous lot of people are involved in them, including a preacher, vulture journalists, a league of doctors, bookmakers, irresponsible youngsters adding to the mess, there are a lot of minor dramas in this film, adding it to Henry Hathaway's already fine collection of semi-documentaries, among which this is definitely one of the best. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043560/?ref_=ur_urv Home to Danger (1951) (9/10) Weird murders going on in very fishy business 15 November 2018

It starts very innocently with no danger at all as there is only one old man dead by suicide, at it seems. Guy Rolfe is there to help the young heiress Barbara (Rona Anderson) who gradually appears as a target for someone who wants to kill her for some reason, but at the shooting party organised for her execution, someone mysteriously shoots the executioner, whom no one in the vicinity has ever seen before. The plot and the mystery thickens. There is a backward boy at the stables who stammers and seems to generally falter in everything he does, but he knows something and sees what no one else sees and makes observations. This is perhaps the most important and interesting character in the film, and he will continue acquiring more importance to the bitter end, as more and more people get murdered one way or the other, and there are some very nice foggy London scenes at night when Rona and Guy break in to investigate some dark secrets. That's where the actual film and excitement starts, which then mercilessly will increase to the desperate end. The backward groom with something of a zombie about him is actually Stanley Baker at an early stage. He remains the most fascinating character, nothing wrong about the others, they are all excellent on a small scale, but the plot gets more and more knotty as it develops. There is more than one murderer here, and they will all surprise you. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043650/?ref_=tt_urv Quo Vadis? (1951)

242


(9/10) Deborah Kerr converts military bully Robert Taylor to Christianity while Nero goes to blazes 18 December 2018

It's a great epic film but with equally great flaws. Robert Taylor is the Roman officer close to the emperor who gradually is converted from a ruthless bully of a soldier to a dedicated Christian, brought around by the irresistibly sweet Deborah Kerr, lovelier than ever, whom he tries to possess by using the emperor's authority for his own selfish means, while it works the other way, so she gets the better of him. He is the nephew of Petronius Arbiter, the emperor's closest friend and chief counsellor, played with excellence by Leo Genn, who was a true character who authored "Satyricon", 20 twenty years later screened by Fellini. This whole film was made in Rome in CinecittĂ , and it's all about Rome and its crisis when the whole city, the world's greatest, burned down, for which Nero blamed the Christians. This is where both the film and the book turns into gross falsification of history. It was not Nero who set fire to Rome, and he did not sing and play the harp on his balcony gloating pyromaniacally in the disaster. All that is false and wicked rumours. The fires started by accident, but Nero did take that for an excuse to start the first major persecution of the Christians. The film is mainly worth seeing for Peter Ustinov's unforgettable characterization of Nero, even better than Charles Laughton's 20 years earlier. Peter Ustinov had a knack for entering other characters, you can see that from his hilarious caricatures of contemporary tycoons, like Ronald Reagan, and his Nero is absolutely formidable in his extreme and ridiculous vanity, actually turning this tragedy of the fall of Rome and the Caesar family into a splendid comedy of the blackest kind. Leo Genn as Petronius is his counterpart, cool common sense and intelligently balanced diplomacy to match the extreme irrationalism of the ruling madman. The film is also worth seeing for the exquisite dresses, mainly of the women, and there are some definite premonitions of "Ben Hur". Two other women are noteworthy here, Patricia Laffan ravishingly wicked and impressing as a dashing Poppea with her gepards, and, perhaps the most interesting role of all, Rosalie Crutchley as Acte, the only one who cares for Nero and actually saves him the only possibkle way. Her part is small but enough to put both Deborah Kerr and Poppea in the shadow. What spoils the film is the Christian tendentiousness, which also spoils the great and interesting novel, Sienkiewicz' greatest. Finlay Currie is not convincing as St. Peter, he is far too majestic, imposing and almost pompous, and Paul isn't any better. Like Robert Taylor they don't get any better than superficial stereotypes, while at least Deborah Kerr is convincing as a underground Christian. Miklos Rosza's music also fails to impress in remaining no more than background accompaniment, while of course the scenes of the hellfire of Rome remain the most impressing. It's a great epic but hopelessly flawed. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043949/ People Will Talk (1951)

243


(10/10) A petty professor tries a character assassination of a fellow doctor 19 March 2019

This is indeed a film worth reviewing many times, for its amazing wit and overwhelmingly intelligent and interesting dialog and argument. A doctor is targeted for a character assassination by an envious colleague, a professor confined in a nutshell world of his own, digging out possible witnesses of his own kind who could report anything derogatory about the doctor, who gets involved with a fainting student at his lectures, who proves to be in an interesting condition. We never learn who the father is, and it could even be suspected that she doesn't know herself. There are many turns to this delicate case. At the same time the doctor is leading the students' orchestra, rehearsing a concert of Brahms, and it so happens, that the concert, providing the finale for the film, is scheduled directly after the hearing of the doctor's mysterious ways of practising by a university committee, wherein the strange case of Mr Shunderson (Finlay Currie in one of his best parts) finally is revealed but in a manner no one could be prepared for. It's one of Joe Mankiewicz's very best films, the virtuoso conversation keeps flooding throughout the film, which is the supreme pleasure among many of the film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043915/ The First Legion (1951) (9/10) The problem of miracles, whether they are true or not 17 April 2019

You wouldn't expect much excitement at a jesuit college, but the psychology and intrigue here is actually very interesting, as the matter of miracles is discussed on a serious level. The doctor knows that the recovery of an older priest was no miracle, although the old man exprienced it as a miracle, but he may not reveal the truth, as he is bound by the same obligation of silence as the priests. This matter (of the oibligation of silence) would also have been an interesting topic of discussion, but it is never questioned. The hysteria around the so called miracle has consequences, but the question of miracles is complicated by a girl in a wheelchair (Barbara Rush) with a spinal disorder who refuses to give up faith in her recovery, although the doctor knows it's hopeless. Charles Boyer makes a very earnest performance, he actually studied philosophy on a serious level long before he became an actor, and also Lyle Bettger as the doctor makes the film humanly rich and of lasting interest, perhaps the most important and interesting character of all. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043537/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Golden Horde (1951) (7/10)

244


Crusaders in Samarkand trying to make order but causing mainly havoc at large 16 August 2019

It's a good story but a bad script. This material could have been used better. An English ambassador with crusaders arrive at Samarkand to assize the armies and threats of the Mongols under Djenghis Khan in 1220 and succeed blatantly in disturbing the peace at court and upsetting all plans of the ruling Queen (Ann Blyth) and the Mongols. The characters are made more as types than characters, the intrigues peter out into small fry business, and in the fights and battles everyone is killed except the right ones. The script gives a very casual and superficial impression, although the Queen's character (Ann Blyth) is fascinating enough but should have been made so much more of. David Farrar is not up to his ordinary standard here but feels rather degraded in such a Hollywood clichĂŠ character as this. James Macready on the other hand is just the type for his scheming shaman in his weezy voice, and Djenghis Khan himself (Marvin Miller) is also good and convincing. In brief, this is no more than a casual spectacular entertainment providing a good story with many possibilities but giving the actors, in spite of their excellence, very little chance of proving their worth by a poor shorthand manuscript. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043593/ Ace in the Hole (1951) (10/10) The mountain of the curse of seven vultures 26 August 2019

Of course, that poor treasure hunter shouldn't have walked in there at all. The Indians knew and refused to place a foot there. The journalist knew nothing and wllked straight into a death trap, suspecting nothing, ultimately sharing the fate of the treasure-hunter, caught in the trap of his own vanity. This is like a fable with deep significance, which must cause much after-thought. Kirk Douglas is brilliant as the ruthless opportunistic journalist whio accepts no resistance and won't listen to anyone but himself but just keeps blundering on committing mistakes all the way but finally realizing them and paying for them. At the same time it's a very moral tale but terrible in its merciless exposure of the almost universal fallacy of opportunism, a temptation which almost no one can refuse and most get caught in, and there are no escapes here, except perhaps for the pious mother, who stands apart from the beginning. It's an impressing looming drama as a monument to human weakness prone to get caught in any trap of vanity, and for once Billy Wilder has ciosen the right music for his film. He never repeated himself, but this film is perhaps the one that stands most apart as his most singular and virtuous production. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043338/ Cry Danger (1951) 245


(9/10) Dick Powell landing straight in new troubles as he gets out of prison. 4 January 2020

This is published as a B-thriller, but it is actually much better than what it appears like. Dick Powell comes out from five years in prison and is immediately thrown back into the unfinished business which brought him to jail - he was innocent, and whether he likes it or not he is brought to unravel what actually happened. Rhonda Fleming is the leading lady here, she lifts the film by her sweet character, while all the other characters are more than doubtful. The most interesting part of the film is the dominating environment - Dick and his former buddy with also Rhonda stay at a vacant lot where they rent trailers for their homes, which adds some very picturesque aspects to the rather squalid intrigue, which involves betrayal, shootings and foul play. Dick manages it all though, with the help of Rhonda as he thinks, while there is more to this plot than anyone can guess. Nevertheless, it is well made and exciting enough, and you will not be disappointed with the very appropriate end to this sad affair. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043435/ Circle of Danger (1951) (9/10) The problem of a war casualty that no one wants to speak about 1 February 2020

This is a tricky post war drama, when an American comes to England to investigate how his brother really died in the war, being a single casualty at an incident. His family has Scottish roots, his name being Douglas, so there is a great deal of Scotland in this, and although it's all about the second world war, the entire drama takes place in Britain, especially Scotland. The last scene on the Scottish moors is extremely sharp in its concentration on an extreme moral dilemma that the soldiers of the relevant company found themselves in and had to resolve in a painful way. The script is brilliant and extremely interesting, as the investigation goes on probing deeper and deeper into a mystery that refuses to be unfolded, until Marius Goring intervenes and provides the releasing contribution. It's actually a chamber drama, it's all dialogue and discussions, and the romance seems beside the point, although it is well captured and plays some important part, especially by constantly encountering new crises. Ray Milland is always good, Hugh Sinclair plays a difficult part but is the right man for the job, while Patricia Roc contrasts well to the austerity of the drama by her beauty and obstinacy to Ray Milland's devious manoeuvres. It's an unusual film more made for thought and consideration than for enjoyment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043409/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

246


Submarine Command (1951) (9/10) An interesting study in a different sort of war trauma 7 February 2020

An excellent war drama presenting many interesting war problems with an excellent cast: William Holden and William Bendix match each other perfectly, both partly as victims of war traumas. Holden enters his submarine on the very day when the war ends by the Japanese capitulation, but before that moment occurs there is a critical action which leaves Holden and Bendix both traumatized. As someone said, this is actually a very valuable presentation of the PTSD problem, as neither Holden nor Bendix ever get over it. Fortunately there is also Nancy Olson who can provide a happy end after all. The story, like generally all submarine stories on film, is extremely interesting and exciting, while at the same time it is a typical William Holden film: he almost always played the same character, always serious, always deep in trouble, always getting into intricately difficult situations, usually losing his life in the bargain, while here he has some difficulty in finding himself obliged to survive and endure ordinary life. It is only really difficult in peace time, though - as soon as the Korean war begins he is at it again, and, as usual, he makes it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044085/ Le carrosse d’or (1952) (8/10) An Italian Commedia dell'arte troupe ends up in Peru to entertain the court of Lima with intrigues and consequences.. 29 January 2015

This is Jean Renoir at his most gorgeous and playful, although he was already getting old when this was made as an enthusiastic tribute to "Commedia dell'arte" staging Anna Magnani as the ultimate primadonna and diva, who in spite of her overmaturity attracts even a king to court her simply by her stardom as an overwhelming actress. The story is silly, of course, and not at all credible and gets steadily more ridiculous all the time, some scenes are actually quite trying for their tedious imbecility, but all comedies are like that – they are never serious, and in comedy everything is allowed, especially silliness. The outstanding merit of the film is how it brings the Commedia dell'arte alive and seemingly more alive than ever – the first theatre scenes are like fireworks in their ebullient sprightliness and a joy both to the eye and the intellect for being so rich in their apparent improvisations with new whims all the time, but it's actually nothing but mastery of expert direction, and jean Renoir knew all about that. Treat it for what it is, a hilarious comedy out of this world, and forbear with the impossible intrigue and hopeless failures of turn-outs that try your patience – Anna Magnani compensates fully for them all with her

247


delightful troupe, where the children are an additional wonder to a gloriously preposterous performance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044487/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Pickwick Papers (1952) (10/10) Almost more Dickensian than Dickens in a highly inspired phantasmagoria of caricatures in a stew of Dickensian splendor 25 March 2017

Splendid adaptation of Dickens at his most hilarious, a kaleidoscopic odyssey around old England with a potpourri of intrigue and adventure squeezed into 100 minutes of virtuoso entertainment of English theatrical art at its best. Every single character is absolutely perfectly Dickensian and convincing as such, and it's a miracle to observe how such an extensive novel of so many characters and complicated intricacies of unexpected turns of events at every corner has been so successfully concentrated in Dickensian essence, which will certainly keep you busy through every minute of it, with even some human pathos to it – the prison scene with Mr. Jingle's change of fortune is perhaps the most impressive part. It's even impossible to say who is the best of all these acting paragons of excellence, but dominating are certainly James Hayter as Mr. Pickwick, Nigel Patrick as Mr. Jingle, James Donald as the besotted Mr. Winkle and Harry Fowler as Sam Weller, the most pleasurable character of them all, but Donald Wolfit crowns them all as Sergeant Buzfuz. It's as superb as a Dickensian entertainment as it was 65 years ago, it hasn't grown one day older but instantly established itself in the timeless zone of cinematic literary classics. It was about 50 years since I last saw it, and although I remembered it well, it was all perfectly fresh again as if it was an entirely new movie. These films cannot age. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045030/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Phone Call from a Stranger (1952) (10/10) An air flight going wrong leading some troublesome destinies right. 1 July 2017

This is one of the most constructive and elegantly contrived films ever made. It was directed by Jean Negulescu, but it is really Nunnally Johnson's film, who wrote it and produced it. Four people are united as a flight to L.A. gets into trouble by bad weather and is grounded twice, which wayward journey opens the curtain to four different fateful karmas. One is the doctor who once dodged his responsibility in a car accident with three deaths, turning his life into a lie and himself into an alcoholic. Then there is the failed singer (Shelley Winters) who after her final defeat wants to make up to the

248


family she let down. Another one persecutes and pesters his fellow passengers with ridiculous practical jokes and thinks he is funny, while he is the real joker of the game. And you have the leading character, Gary Merrill, running away from his family after his wife deceived him. They are interwoven into a fantastic sieve of destiny which constantly moves you to higher human insights. Bette Davis also has a small part to play, you wait patiently for her until almost the end of the film, and yet she succeeds in crowning it. It's definitely one of the finest film scripts ever made, and all the director had to do was to follow it. The story needs very little adding to its qualities, and yet the actors actually gild it by small or no means, just acting naturally, as they really would have in such situations. One of the triumphs is Evelyn Varden as Sally Carr, an old dinosaur of a night club artist and manager bullying her son and dependents but running the show. Well, this is a film to always return to now and then for its vital lesson in human forbearance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045029/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Hunted (1952) (9/10) Shattering escape from an intolerable reality to nowhere... The key word is "What do you think girls marry sailors for?", the scornful reply of his wife's lover which triggers the tragedy and opens the stage for the development of an abyss of humanity. It's a fugitive epic, like an old Icelandic saga, as there is no end to this Golgatha walk of constantly more worrying and heart-rending tribulations of a man getting lost in life by over-reacting to a shock, which under the circumstances is perfectly natural, like a crime passionel, and finds a very singular companion to his troubles in small boy escaping from home and the tortures by his step-father. Dirk Bogarde is good as always and finds himself perfectly at home in this harrowing walk through hell to nowhere ending up in a paradox of freedom where he finds no other choice than to resign just as he finally found a way out. It's not his misfortune or his suffering that guides him but the small boy who ever and again compels him to choose a path leading him on to unknown territory of his previous human experience and deciding his fate. That makes this a very educating ordeal and truly a film out of the ordinary if not extremely unique. It's very unpleasant for its arduous trials but has to make you a different person afterwards with a lot more sober perspective to yourself and reality. It gets you outside of yourself as it compels you to empathize with these two outlawed characters in search of an alternative to the reality which has treated them with irrepairable injustice to the point of extreme abuse without finding it or anything else than even deeper despair and trouble. This fate teaches you something, but you have to find the lesson by yourself after the film has ended. This is a film you can't escape from, but you have to see it again some time for its wholesome and purging trials. It's life at the edge of what you can endure, tested to extremity. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045201/?ref_=nv_sr_1

249


Deadline (1952) Humphrey Bogart as an editor in a struggle of life and death to the bitter end against corruption to save his newspaper. 4 January 2018

This is possibly and probably the best film of journalism ever made, with Humphrey Bogart at the peak of his powers waging everything as an editor to save the life of his newspaper against impossible odds, seconded by his many times divorced wife Kim Hunter, Ethel Barrymore as a moral heavyweight, and editor-assistant Ed Begley among many others. This is actually a requiem for a newspaper based on a true story but written and directed by Richard Brooks in what is probably his best film. Everything in it is perfect and especially the dialogue, which keeps you breathless throughout the film - it never slows down but is always pertinent, witty and important - not a word is wasted in this torrent of argument. Although there are thriller elements, since the main theme is battling corruption with the quest for truth as the main instrument, it's at the same time hilariously entertaining, but especially enjoyable to those who relish an intelligent argument.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044533/?ref_=nv_sr_4 The Card (1952) (10/10) How to not miss any opportunity. 31 January 2018

Alec Guinness made quite a pearl or diamond necklace of some of the most delightful comedies ever made, starting with "The Last Holiday" down to "Our Man in Havana" in the 50s. Some of the others between are "The Lavender Hill Mob", "All at Sea", "Lady Killers", "The Man in the White Suit", "Horse's Mouth", and they are all top rate. This one, originally "The Card", is slightly different as he here makes a totally different character from his usual typical characters, as Machin actually is a very subtle trickster who uses his knack for manipulation to good ends no matter how dishonest his tricks are. The equally tricky Glynis Johns therefore suits him perfectly, they would seem the ideal couple for getting anywhere in life by their tricks, but she lacks his subtlety and commits the mistake of thinking she could fool him as well as anyone. By a very fortuitous twist of fortune, Wilfrid Hyde-White appears at the right moment to save them both from each other. It's wonderful story with many odd twists to it, the mother is the one admirable and constant character in this wayward maze of small town intrigue, and I agree with another reviewer that the ball scene is the highlight. It's a small story of small people in a small society, but the story, the film, the music and the players make it timeless. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045056/?ref_=ur_urv The Devil Makes Three (1952) (7/10)

250


No dancing for Gene Kelly taken for a ride by post war Nazi smugglers 17 February 2018

The introduction is very promising with almost a documentary touch on post war Germany in the ruins of Munich. Pier Angeli makes a very moving character as an orphaned girl at the mercy of what is worse than just pimps. Gene Kelly's lack of dancing and singing in this picture is not made up by his acting. The round in the joints of Munich is priceless with insight in its cabarets and very local styles with genuine music and performers. The final one is the Silhouette, where the band is led by a singer/pianist who sings in both German and broken English (Claus Clausen) with darkly bittersweet irony reflecting the tragedy of Germany with a painted smile on it. If this mood would have been sustained the film would have been interesting indeed, like Carol Reed's "The Man Between". Instead it loses itself in a Nazi plot with gangsters and shootings, and the human factor is lost in action. The winter landscape adds to the dreariness and poverty of the concept, and the final settlement is far from convincing, although the ruins of Berchtesgaden are used in an effort to augment the drama. This must be Gene Kelly's worst film, and only Pier Angeli and the ruins of Germany save it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044547/ Assignment Paris! (1952) (8/10) Dark problems with goings-on behind the iron curtain 28 March 2018

A cold war insight that is fairly realistic and gives a very clear picture of the state of Europe, especially Hungary, during the last years of Stalin. It is especially relevant today as Putin tries to exonerate him and repeat his methods of stretching far outside Russia to persecute so called enemies that could be considered a threat to the infallibility of Russian dictatorship. Dana Andrews is reliable as usual, seconded here by the lovely Marta Toren, who played in films together with almost all the major stars of Hollywood before she died suddenly at only 30 as the successor to Ingrid Bergman, but Marta Toren also married and filmed in Italy. George Sanders is the sober diplomat who handles the intricate situation with due dignity, while the most realistic scenes are the most revolting, those of the Hungarian brainwash procedure under Stalin. It's not one of Dana Andrews' best pictures, but no one could have made the part he plays better - he had been in it before, like in "The Iron Curtain" 1948. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044379/ Diplomatic Courier (1952) (9/10)

251


Tyrone Power as a diplomatic courier gets into any amount of trouble 1 July 2018

This brilliant thriller by Henry Hathaway takes you for a ride into nightmare complications of cold war terror, spy intrigues and very doubtful women. Patricia Neal is a rich widow who does anything to get Tyrone Power hooked, while Hildegard Knef is in a less favourable position and must arouse overwhelming suspicions, especially as her best friend (and Tyrone Power's) gets murdered in her compartment in the train. Tyrone Power's fierce suspicion of her appears as somewhat unnecessary and unmotivated as almost a flaw in the script, but when you understand the bond between the two men you must accept it, especially since anything he has to do with her brings him into constantly more trouble. The force of the film is the splendid scenery, first on the train and then in Trieste. It is clearly inspired by "The Third Man", many nocturnal Trieste scenes immediately brings memories of "The Third Man" to mind, and there is even cither music. The film is fireworks all the way, and although something like this never could happen in reality (like any James Bond yarn), it still makes sense and is a marvel of composition. The dialogue gunfire will keep you busy all the way. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044552/?ref_=ur_urv Come Back, Little Sheba (1952) (9/10) Chamber play around a bottle and what could have been 3 July 2018

The main interest of the film is its keen insight into the reality of alcoholism once it gets cured while the permanent risk of a relapse keeps hanging over you until it drops, which it doesn't always do, but it certainly does sometimes, like here, when the tenant of the Delaneys allows too much liberty to a playboy friend, which starts Burt Lancaster off into a terrible misdirection. The trigger was pulled, and the gun just went off. It's definitely Shirley Booth's film, but Burt is superb supporting her. She makes a pathetic wreck of a woman with a marriage on her hands that couldn't be avoided only because it went wrong from the beginning. Burt is not equally pathetic, after all, he took his responsibility and married her and stayed faithful, but it's a pathetic tragedy of an aborted marriage nonetheless, but they make the best of it and actually succeed. The other actors all play in the shadow of this relationship, which is gloriously documented and dissected indeed. The lost youth, the failed motherhood, the AA obligations, the bottle in the cupboard, that must not be touched... It's a wonderful chamber play totally indoors and void of all glamour and Hollywood tinsel but perfectly real - and tremendously exciting, because you are all the time afraid of 252


what will happen, the sleeping volcano of Burt Lancaster erupts in every film, and so it happens. That's because every film of his is worth seeing and more than once. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044509/?ref_=ur_urv Botany Bay (1952) (8/10) A ship of hoodlums exiled to penal colonies in Australia with James Mason in charge and Alan Ladd an intrepid innocent 3 September 2018

This is a great novel, and the film, alas, does not quite live up to it. All the actors are quite all right, James Mason as a paragon of inhumanity at his most loathsome superiority - you wait for him to get murdered all through the film, and Alan Ladd, reliable as always in his irrepressible heroic obstinacy, Cedric Hardwicke as the pragmatic Australian governor, and Patricia Medina as the indispensible female element of some counterpoise to all the beastly cruelty. Franz Waxman's music helps a lot, and there is nothing really to complain about in this film on a great and interesting story indeed, except that it could have been made so much better, as the novel is well on par with "Mutiny on the Bounty". https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045574/?ref_=tt_urv Gift Horse (Glory at Sea) (1952) (10/10) A derelict ship fighting it out against all odds and surviving all her own defeats with a vengeance 10 September 2018

In the beginning of the war when Britain was fighting for her life with France lost and German U-boats sinking all her convoys, Churchill desperately pleaded to Roosevelt for any kind of assistance. Roosevelt was rather reluctant to help a sinking ship, as he (like the ambassador Joseph Kennedy in London) thought it probable that Britain would have to submit to Germany, but he condescendingly let off some battle ships that were taken out of circulation and would be scrapped anyway. This is the story of such a ship, called "Gift Horse" all through the film, and Captain Trevor Howard very wisely considers it best not to look into the mouth of a gift horse. Of course, there is trouble with the ship all the way, as there is always something crucial that doesn't work when the situation becomes critical. So there are many incidents, but the most interesting thing about the film is how it almost documentarily goes into the private lives of the sailors. There are many extremely interesting insights into different fates of the war, including many heart-breaking trials, of course. Richard Attenborough is one of the crew, and there are some wonderful pub scenes

253


with fighting parties, of which the second earns a place in lasting memorability. It's a great film on a minor scale but the more interesting for its absolute realism. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044658/ The Long Memory (1952) (9/10) One of those barge stories with an unpleasantly manifested haunting bad conscience 4 October 2018

John Mills is released from prison after 12 years for a murder he did not commit and had no motive for, while his only mistake was to love a beautiful young woman on board that barge who later betrayed and lied on him for the sake of her drunken father. There are so many delightful reminiscences in this film of earlier similar stories and masterpieces - why are these bleak and sultry barge melodramas always so successful. intriguing and unforgettable? Already Chaplin in "Modern Times" ended up poetically in a place like this, and let's not talk of all the French noirs by Marcel CarnĂŠ from "Quai des brumes" onward - all you lack in this film is Jean Gabin - he later even made an American barge film like this, where he was more drunk than usual. Here instead you have an unusually gloomy John Mills, who just hates everyone and wants to be alone with his hatred, as if that could cure it. Some weird fortune sends him an orphan woman, a certain Ilse (Eva Bergh) to patch him up, he revolts against it with all his might, but what can you do against love when it actually works? The other woman faces harder trials, and there is no cheerful prospect for her to look forward to, as her betrayal must have consequences even for others than just herself. It's a rather weird melodrama but fascinating, and there is a deus-exmachina twist to it all, as the actor you expected least of proves to have the final answer to all problems - no one can fool an old scrap collector. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044849/?ref_=tt_urv Walk East on Beacon (1952) (8/10) Closing in on communist spies and jeopardizing the life of an old Russian scientist 3 January 2018

This is a most conventional propaganda picture for the glory of the FBI with careful documentation of how expertly they handle their duties and get their commie villains. It is very similar in character to Henry Hathaway's "House on the 92nd Street", which though is a so much more interesting film for its characters, especially Signe Hssso. Here there are no characters except stereotypes.. The one character for which the film is worth seeing is Finlay Currie as the Russian scientist who gets into trouble, and his way of handling his very tricky path out

254


of an immense abyss of trouble. It's not a bad film, but it is supremely superficial, varnished to 101% artificial perfection, but for Finlay Currie. who makes a great performance. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045309/ Actor’s Blood (1952) (7/10) Two short films, one excellent, the other terrible 5 February 2019

This was the first film Ben Hecht made in six years after ”The Specter of the Rose”, an ambitious ballet psychological thriller, and you recognize the high strung and exaggerated drama from that extreme melodrama, and Edward G. Robinson is the right character for this almost freak show. ”Actor’s Blood” however is only 45 minutes, and it will not disappoint you, but it is followed by another 45 minutes feature called ”Woman of Sin” which is supposed to be a comedy but isn’t funny at all. It’s about a child star, apparently the director’s own daughter, who is allowed to steal the show with disastrous consequences – this is a terrble film, intended as a satire of the film industry in Hollywood and how it works with the producers, but it is not worth spending your time. If you happen to this film, enjoy the ”Actor’s Blood”, be prepeared that it ’s ony 45 minutes, and then turn off before the other film begins, and you will be spared the worst. Blackbeard the Pirate (1952) (8/10) Making the worst of it as the worst of pirates 13 March 2019

This is all swashbuckling and Robert Newton overdoing it all the way and nothing else. It's a poor and confused plot, extremely unlikeable and unrealistic, but Linda Darnell lifts the show by her beauty, counterpoising the exaggerated savagery of Newton and the pirates. It's great entertainment in colour, it's a typical Raoul Walsh film, very ably directed but totally superficial, and, as so often in his films, the battle and confusion scenes are the best, for they are always directed in perfect order perhaps no one knew better than Walsh how to handle many people at once in organized confusions. The story is a pastiche on all the earlier piracy films, like "The Black Swan" and "Treasure Island", and the main reason for the film seems to have been to give an opportunity for Robert Newton to excel in his special personal savagery of acting outstanding crooks. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044426/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Night Without Sleep (1952) 255


(10/10) Gary Merrill can’t remember who he has killed 17 March 2019

This is one of those obscure minor masterpieces that get sorted out for being not very sensational, but it is a highly developed psychological drama and thriller, Gary Merrill makes the most of it, and it is probably his best film. He wakes up five in the morning with a weird feeling of having killed somebody, but he can't remember whom. He tries to reconstruct what happened, he remembers his wife, who went away to Boston for her father's birthday, he remembers his meeting with Linda Darnell, whom he hadn't seen for six years, and he remembers his upsets with his other dame, Lisa Mueller (Hildegard Knef), who scolded him and had every reason to. But it was the Linda Darnell episode that made an impression on him, and it does indeed on the audience as well - this is romance at the highest possible level and the main charm and lasting impact of the film, which will make you want to go over it again, almost immediately, because it is so beautiful and well made, with the composer Gary playing for her his own music and all. It is very noir and hopeless, but the impression of its love affair will leave as lasting an impression on you as it does on poor Gary and Linda Darnell, who was never lovelier. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044967/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Green Glove (1952) (8/10) Glenn Ford treasure-hunting and being hunted in France 2 June 2019

As usual, Glenn Ford makes things worse for himself by persistently making stubborn resistance to anything that does not even threaten him, believing the worst of everyone except himself, but this is an unusually good film for being with Glenn Ford. The whole action is set in France during and a number of years after the war, when Glenn returns to search out a treaure he found by doubtful means by a very suspect Czech-Polish count (James MacReady) who repeats his subtle manipulative but very persuasive viciousness from "Gilda", also with Glenn Ford, falling then as now again for MacReady's temptations. But the most interesting part of the film concerns the Countess, who loses her son in Glenn's first visit and never gets over it, but when Glenn returns with the green glove as a miracle, she presents the one miracle of the film by recovering from her trauma. The scenery is marvellous all through, and the final hunt down and up across the steep mountain, both chasing the other with intentions to kill and not get killed, is exciting enough. There are several implausibilities in the film, but what do they matter, as the intrigue and the excitement is satisfactory enough for a high gear entertainment.

256


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044673/ The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) (10/10) Kirk Douglas does everything wrong and gets away with it 26 July 2019

Vincente Minnelli’s virtuoso investigation of how Hollywood works, going behind the scenes and into the characters of a film star, a script writer, a director and a producer, with Walter Pidgeon as the ultimate executive producer making all the final decisions, is a fascinating web of psychology; and the most fascinating character is the villain, the producer Kirk Douglas. When you look deep into his demeanour and how he works, you really can’t blame him. You understand why everyone hates him and wants nothing to do with him, but like his three major victims in the end they just can’t keep themselves from nevertheless following him, lost for life in a permanent fascination of his possessed genius. Yes, he lets his best friend down, but so did almost everyone in Hollywood. He betrays Lana Turner after having saved her and made her a film star, the treason is atrocious, but he just couldn’t help it. And his guilt in the loss of his script writer Dick Powell’s wife is very arguable indeed. It was an unintentional accident, yes, he made Gaucho go away with her, he even tried to persuade Gaucho not to use that plane, and there is no tenable case. And the executive producer Walter Pidgeon is the one who never deserts him, always is ready to start again from the beginning and to try the impossible to raise new money for Kirk’s new film against impossible odds – the end is the best, as no query is resolved, and you are left hanging in the air, with the one remaining thing, the fascination by the impossible and incurable genius. It’s a masterpiece of dissection of how Hollywood works, and it will leave you somewhat disillusioned – is Hollywood really just such an inhuman and monstrous soap bubble of only vainglorious vanity? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044391/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Big Heat (1952) (10/10) Glenn Ford with hard knuckles gets difficult to handle when his wife is murdered by mistake 30 July 2019

This is one of the toughest and cruellest noirs with Lee Marvin as a very brutal villain, but the beginning is seductively soft - you suspect nothing until the first disaster is a fact. Yes, it begins with a spectacular suicide indeed, but nothing seems to come of it - to begin with. Only towards the end it leads irrevocably into the big heat. The major hero here is not Glenn Ford though, no matter how hard he uses his relentless knuckles, but Gloria Grahame, the happy-go-lucky girl of Lee Marvin's, 257


who thinks he can handle her consistently, but fortunately for her, and for the story, she develops a mind of her own and moves on to take initiatives. The other woman, the widow Duncan, is more intelligent and smart, but when a woman is hurt beyond repair, her fury will go at any length, and once she gets started, nothing will be able stop her. The few scenes between her and Glenn Ford add some rare lyricism to Fritz Lang's relentless direction, and they actually give some hope and relief from the drama, but in the end, Glenn Ford will find himself as hopeless as a loner as ever with nothing to resort to but business as usual. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045555/ The Quiet Man (1952) (10/10) John Ford returning home to Ireland 1 August 2019

There are already +200 reviews of this classic, so one more will make no difference. I find it opportune to point out, however, how much love John Ford put into this picture. He had Irish roots and tendered them faithfully in a number of flms, but this could be considered his ultimate live affair with Ireland. It's all about Irish traditions and sticking to the roots, and Victor Young's music follows this pattern conscientiously in adorning the film throughout with old Irish folk music and melodies, crowning it all with a tremendous battle fugue, as the knuckles get the better of the plot. But the dominating trait of the film is a pastoral idyll with sincere affection for the Irish way. The pub scenes have been called "the most typically Irirish pub scenes of all", and obviously John Ford put special effort in embracing the human side of Irish life. John Wayne is kept down to a restricted "quiet" character making this one of his best appearances, and Maureen O'Hara is always perfect and especially perfect here. Some say that the most important character is actually Barry FitzGerald, and he certainly makes one of his most considerable and memorable contributions. Victor MacLaglen was an old favourite of John Ford's from the awardwinning "The Informer" some 15 years earlier and couldn't be better for the character he is playing. In brief, everything is perfect in this pastoral comedy of Ireland with dramatic ingredients with, of course, a tremendous man-to-man fight in the end to crown it all, finishing up, of course, at the local pub. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045061/ The Captive City (1952) (9/10) A study in local corruption with journalism for once to advantage 30 Auguat 2019

258


This is a true story of moral heroism, as a lonely journalist struggles headstrongly against all odds and all advising against it to expose the firm grip of a town by a mafia, which apparently is expert at committing murders and getting away with it. The mood of the film is slightly paranoic, but, as usual with Robert Wise's films, it is efficiently made and keeps a firm grip on the audience to the bitter end, which comes as an unexpected relief. John Forsythe never became a great star, maybe he was to intense in his roles of exposed risk-takers to ever advance from that stage, but his films are always worth watching. The music, also as usual in Robert Wise's films, is exquisitely well suited and keeps up the drama. The message of the film is almost universal: this could happen to you and in any town, and the warning message is to always keep alert and never flinch at the truth. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044476/ Trent’s Last Case (1952) (9/10) A strange murder that looks like suicide, but who was really intended as the victim? 18 September 2019

Agatha Christie considered this intrigue one of the best ever written, and it certainly is. The mystery is deep here, and as it gradually is unravelled you are in for any number of surprises. The actors are outstanding, with Michael Wilding as the detective intruding on the private lives of the young widow Margaret Lockwood and the man who loves her, who is the prime suspect, while Orson Welles as the victim provides an impressing finale as he enters in the final flashback. Miles Malleson plays an important part as a reluctant participant in the plot, while the story is what really matters. Herbert Wilcox' direction is faultless but very formal, giving the film a somewhat conventional character - there is no cinematography to speak of, while music plays an important part - Eileen Joyce has a moment as a performing pianist, and the film score is by Anthony Collins, who is also seen acting as a conductor - one of his rare appearances on film. After having reached the end of the story, and Michael Wilding closing his last case as Trent, yuo just have to agree with Agatha Christie about the marvellous windings of this plot. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045259/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Narrow Margin (1952) Manhunt on a train with women involved 30 October 2019

This is an efficiently told hard-boiled story of the hopeless task of a police officer to bring a key witness on a train from Chicago to San Francisco, where she has to appear alive to testify against the mob as the wife of one of them. Naturally the mob wants to have her killed on the way and try to do their best to accomplish this, which is not very easy, since the police escort (Charles McGraw) is not to be bribed and has

259


hard fists. There are many flaws in the film and the script, but the direction is excellent and the cinematography fascinating, and it must be one of the most exciting B-thrillers ever made. The fat man and the small boy on the train add some delight to the entertainment. Many get irritated by the many flaws of the mnauscript, sometimes resulting in goofs (like the car following the train suddenly going in the opposite direction), but it is nerve-racking enough to provide some great entertainment. The action is fast, but the greatest credit goes to Richard Fleischer for his excellent direction. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044954/?ref_=tt_urv Ruby Gentry (1952) (9/10) The devastating effects of bigotry and prejudice 7 November 2019

Ruby Gentry has a bad reputation for being popular among all kinds of boys who never tire of trying to possess her. Two of them are Karl Malden and Charlton Heston. Karl Malden is rich and well situated with an established position, while Charlton Heston, here still quite young and attractive, is the one she is in love with. His family, however, has decided for him to marry a girl of society, and he does. Instead Karl Malden wins her, and the marriage is a success – to begin with. Unfortunately, the great passions which Ruby Gentry instills, becomes too much for those who love her, and as always the complicated relationships result in a tragedy. In the end it’s only a matter of counting the casualties and burying the bodies. Jennifer Jones is perfect as the too attractive Ruby Gentry, who outshines even Charlton Heston, while Karl Malden as always is also perfect in his part. The only real villain of the play is Ruby’s bigoted brother (Tom Tully), who is the one who mess things up. All characters are perfect in their parts, and King Vidor by this film makes a good follow up to ”Duel in the Sun”. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045109/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Face to Face (The Secret Sharer, 1952) (9/10) James Mason on his first command as captain encountering unexpected problems 9 Secember 2019

It's the first part, "The Secret Sharer", that will stick in your mind and remain there. It's a story by Joseph Conrad and actually one of his best and one of the very few that ends agreeably. James Mason is a captain on his first ship somewhere around Malaya (as usual) when he gets a swimmer on board, who has been swimming the whole day. He confesses to have murdered a person on board his own ship and therefore can't return. This naturally causes a predicament for James Mason on his 260


first and crucial command. It's a fascoinating psychological drama, but the best part is all the insights you get by the film of how to run a sailing ship. The photo is magnificent and rich in its great panoramic compass of all the life on board, how the sailors work, impressing pictures of the ship at sea - this is a treat for fans of sailing ships, and as such it is first class and unforgettable. The second part with Robert Preston as a sheriff in the wild west is a comedy about how he has to cope with the problem of a drunk colleague running wild in his absence while he is off for a wedding. It is dwarfed by the realism of James Mason's performance. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044601/ The Blue Gardenia (1953) (9/10) Accidental murder or just bad luck? Anne Baxter has a drink too much and has her seducer accidentally murdered. 8 May 2017

A great story of how one shock leads to another, triggering a chain reaction of unfortunate circumstances. Anne Baxter is absolutely faithful to her soldier in Korea when she on her birthday gets a letter from him stating he loves another nurse in Tokyo. She is shattered and accepts a dubious invitation from Raymond Burr, who is a notorious womanizer. He fills her with drinks, she relaxes a bit too much and loses control of the developing situation completely. Another man, Richard Conte, a scandal column journalist, gets her even more mixed up in a situation she never bargained for. Anne Baxter makes a wonderful show of her vulnerable character falling down into a pit of troubles. Fortunately she has some very good female friends sharing her apartment, and especially Ann Sothern is wonderful as a leading lady of the pack. Nat King Cole sings the melting hearts melody, and music plays an important part in this film. That's the record Raymond Burr puts on when he has got her into his flat and will seduce her with more drinks, but when the body is discovered the music is not Nat King Cole but Wagner's heart-crushing "Tristan and Isolde". Here is a mystery from the beginning, and it almost passes by unnoticed, until Richard Conte finally observes the incongruity. The riddle of the music finally releases and resolves the mystery. Fritz Lang's direction is as usual masterly, and you recognize his special knack for creating "moments of truth" in extreme suspension now and then. He added an extra dimension to his realism as a kind of magic touch raising the show to an almost spiritual level. It was especially evident in films like "The Ministry of Fear" (Graham Greene) and the Edward G. Robinson films with Joan Bennett, looking down into abysses of trouble and the caprices of destiny. His name always guarantees a film to remember. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045564/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Angel Face (1953) 261


(10/10) Intriguing mystery thriller of the secrets of the mind with dangerous motives. This is an amazing exploration of the darkest recesses of the mind. Diane is the daughter of a successful author, who lost his wife (Dian'e s mother) in a blitz in London and has moved to the states and remarried. Diane and here stepmother has a problematic relationship, since Diane wants to keep her father for herself – they are very close. Accidents happen. Although Ben Hecht is uncredited, you can feel his irrevocable presence in the ominous script, the story of which couldn't be more typical Ben Hecht. The questionable part is Robert Mitchum. How on earth could he refuse Jean Simmons, who here even perhaps makes her best performance and is hauntingly alike to Audrey Hepburn in her supreme beauty? Of course, his character of Frank Jessup isn't stupid, he sees through her and is just an honest guy, perhaps a bit too ordinary for her, who is more brilliant than what's good for her. Herbert Marshall as the father makes a small but important part, but the key scenes are the dark scenes with Jean Simmons solo, playing moody music (Dimitri Tiomkin) on the piano, wandering about in her memories, an abyss of melancholy of which you can't guess any bottom, and all these solo scenes are the most exciting in the film, because you feel her dangerous thoughts without understanding them, and they fill you with terror for their dangerous mystery. This is a major study of a woman and the mind film and unique in its slow and creeping inevitability on the road to perdition. The slowness of the action is abruptly contrasted by the oncoming shocks, which are difficult to recover from. A first class psychological thriller. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044357/?ref_=nv_sr_1 King of the Khyber Rifles (1953) (7/10) A great novel reduced to shambles 8 March 2017

Based on Talbot Mundy's best and most famous novel, which unfortunately I was an expert on, this film was a total disappointment, in spite of its great assets of mainly stupendous mountain scenery and Bernard Herrmann's music. But the mountain scenery was nothing at all about the famous Khyber pass but all shot in California, and above all, the splendid story of Talbot Mundy's secret agent thriller of jihadism and the cutting of heads even 160 years ago by taliban rebels and with a dancing queen of beauty at the centre of intrigue, also involving some archaeology and reminiscenses of Alexander the Great's famous visit to Afghanistan, was reduced to a cheap and petty pulp fiction of the commonest of Hollywood clichés. The acting is not very good either. The only one making a strong impression by his stage presence and acting is Guy Rolfe as the villain, the rebel king, while supporting parts, such as John Justin and Michael Rennie, also make a good job, while Terry Moore is a complete disaster. However could Tyrone Power fall in love with such a nuisance of a bobby-soxer? It's as far from credible as anything could be. Tyrone Power is himself, and that's enough for him – with such a face he never even needed to act. A great pity for a great story to be so poorly handled and reduced to mere superficial

262


entertainment. Talbot Mundy was a theosophist and mystic who wrote many books, and this one could have been made into as great a Kipling epic as "The Man who Wanted to be King". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045961/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Return to Paradise (1953) (9/10) Gary Cooper escaping trouble and finding new trouble in the South Pacific 1 July 2017

This is a very unusual Gary Cooper film, quite out of the ordinary, Gary Cooper beach-combing in the South Seas, escaping from a troublesome past, probably the war, and finding new trouble and a second world war in Samoa. It's beautifully made efficiently directed by Mark Robson and has a great story to tell. It's James Michener's story like continuing from "South Pacific" to another island with another human wreck of the war. Gary Cooper is a hard Irishman used to having to fight to get out of trouble and with a very hard and stubborn head. He gets into total conflict with a local tyrant of a missionary, who bullies the whole island, but the people, all Polynesians, see Gary as their possible saviour, and the conflict is gradually resolved as Gary and Barry Jones learn to cooperate. Domestic trouble awaits, though, and after a personal tragedy he finds himself obliged to continue running away from his fate. After many years he returns to the island just in time for new trouble from the second world war. Curiously enough, this is not a very renowned or well known film, although it must be ranked among the best of its genre. It's filmed on location, and the insight into the life on the island among the natives is the chief asset and charm of the film. Gary Cooper makes a very convincing performance as a man of destiny having a hard time dealing with it, but ultimately he seems to come to terms with it. The happy end is perhaps the only objectionable detail of the film, which alone is not quite convincing. Like after "South Pacific", you expect the story to continue. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046238/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Madame de‌ (1953) (10/10) A wife sells her husband's wedding present with an unexpected and unintentional labyrinth of consequences and complications 1 May 2016

The two top gallant gentlemen of the cinema as rivals of its most beautiful woman, both loving her beyond expression in the subtlest possible intrigue of fate as unpredictable as an improvised thriller in which the writer himself has no idea of 263


where the mechanics of destiny will lead him or the puppets of his tale, a labyrinth of love leading everywhere but out of it, filmed with all the refined expertise of perhaps the greatest film director of all, using his constantly moving camera for an overwhelming constant flood of beauty and poetry. This is simply incredible. You can see every film of his again and again forever, since their richness of details and amounting complications of human feelings always expressed by hints and understatements are unfathomably without end. Danielle Darrieux. great already in the 30s and chosen by most cinema lovers as the one outstanding film queen of beauty, is 99 today (1st of May 2016), while her warm beauty dominates her every film forever. Charles Boyer is always reliably excellent and here nobler than ever as the husband, while Vittorio de Sica perhaps makes his most sincere performance as the passionate lover, just as honestly romantic as Charles Boyer's absolute nobility couldn't be more convincing. What about the story, then, actually seemingly superficially a trifle of unavoidable complications resulting from white lies, but the miracle is how this mere miniature of an episodic detail is aggrandized into a love drama of more than epic proportions involving all kinds of storms of a thrilling melodrama. Comedy or tragedy? No, just a human documentary charting an ocean of the complications of being just human. To this comes Oscar Straus' delightful music adorning the masterpiece with a golden frame of tenderness, as if the composer adored the poor victims of this train of complications resulting from the mere trifle of a white lie. Is anyone committing any mistake at all to deserve all this agony of unnecessary self-torture resulting from mere complexes of feelings? No, in all this towering guilt no one is to blame for anything. They are all as innocent as children getting mixed up in a game that goes beyond them. Maybe the tragedy could have been avoided, but then the French are as they are with a penchant for an irrevocably undeniable mentality of Crime Passionnel. There Max Ophuls finds a dead end of his story and film, which perhaps was necessary, or else a story like this could never have ended. In fact, there was a continuation, but Ophuls cut it out, forcing himself to avoid overdoing it. The masterpiece just couldn't be driven further. Still, it's not his best film. But it's a perfect example of the virtuosity of his art. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046022/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Man Between (1953) (9/10) Love among the ruins of post-war Berlin 27 July 2016

"The Man Between" has been unfavorably compared with Carol Reed's earlier masterpieces like "Odd Man Out" and "The Third Man" which is an injustice, because this is an entirely different story and much more romantic at that. Of course, in this gloomy film of Stalinist oppression and commie commissar thugs in Berlin under the snow in the dreariness of a harrowed world capital of which nothing remains but a

264


mutilated ghost cleft in twain, you miss certain more picturesque atmospheres of Ireland and Vienna, and there is no comedy here, although James Mason has a few dry and bitter laughs. His personification of what once was a man before the war turned into an abyss of cynical resignation is up to his best standards as an actor, and he is excellently partnered by the lovely Claire Bloom, who later returned to a similar play-acting in Berlin in Martin Ritt's hauntingly sinister "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" twelve years later, which borrowed much of the moods in this film. What's especially haunting here is John Addison's spooky music dominated by a single saxophone constantly repeating the same wailing fragment of a tune, which adds a certain metaphysical interest to this film lacking in Carol Reed's earlier ones. The flight among the ruins and the skeleton of the macabre building construction adds to the nightmarish mood of alienation in an hostilely inhuman world going futuristic in an 1984 manner – the constantly repeated threatening giant posters of Stalin everywhere in East Berlin stresses this point and adds to the helplessness of disoriented man. I saw this film now for the third time since 1971, and each time I have found it more interesting. There are some flaws in the script, not everything is clear, and especially in the beginning the audience is thrown into total confusion until Hildegard Knef at last answers some questions. Her part is perhaps the most vital to the story, she has been married to a wonderful man lost in the war, who suddenly reappears as a ghost from the ruins after the world when she has found a new happy marriage, which unwelcome revisit from the past turns her life upside down. Of course, Claire Bloom is also confused by her upset condition. The intrigue is humanly very complicated but the more interesting for its infected labyrinths, which is one of the reasons why it will always be worth while seeing this film once again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046031/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Net (1953) (9/10) High suspense on early ventures on the road to space 3 June 2017

Anthony Asquith always delivers, and here is a further development of the experimental paths of David Lean's "The Sound Barrier" some year before, getting almost metaphysical on flying as high and fast as possible. But like most of Asquith's films, it's really a psychological delving and charting this time into the weird issue of science as an obsession bordering on madness. Prof. Michael Heathley (James Donald) lives only for his airplane and neglects his charming beautiful wife Phyllis Calvert, always a joy on the screen. He is evidently at risk as he is constantly overworking and prone to take risks – his only fear is to get stuck in "the net of a fossilized scientist", and much of the film is symbolically behind barbed wire. In his team are Robert Beatty as a security major and Herbert Lom admiring his wife and actually going a bit far flirting with her, but you excuse him since she is neglected and so irresistible. Another cheerful doctor (Noel Willman) is also with them, but you are alarmed from the start by his demeanour, and he will surprise you. The music adroitly illustrates the border line element in the workshop, and there is some spying business going on as well.

265


There are some nerve–racking flying sequences, just like in "The Sound Barrier", but David Lean's film sticks more to the ground and reality, while here you are taken for a ride beyond consciousness bordering almost on science fiction. It's a thriller, and as the tension increases at constantly higher gear as the film climaxes, you will not able to relax until after the very last minute. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046123/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Jennifer (1953) (9/10) A psychological thriller at its best with Ida Lupino at the mercy of increasing scariness of the unknown This is a miniature but a very efficient one. Ida Lupino is one of those actors I never found lacking but on the contrary raising every film she was in to a top level. She excelled in acting parts where she could make something great out of a small character, and this is a typical example. She gets a job as a caretaker at a large but desolate mansion of a great past but with a very dark secret developing into a looming mystery of constantly more threatening proportions, as Ida finds herself persecuted by the same kind of ghost that evidently scared away Jennifer, the previous lodger. No one knows what became of her, she just vanished without a trace, and that's the mystery, which immediately starts to haunt the vulnerable Ida, who gets more and more possessed by it. Two male characters also haunt the place and act as some kind of aids but seem both very suspicious, and she definitely cannot trust them and even less the more helpful they are. What's really happening is that everyone is keeping a secret from her, and as she can get no clue to the threat of this fact she naturally feels more and more exposed to unknown dangers, and she has a right to be. It all ends up to a shocking climax, making the structure of this film very similar to many Hitchcocks, especially "Suspicion" with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine 10 years earlier. The interest and quality of the film lies entirely with suggestions and innuendos, shadows speak more than words, the moods take over and dominate reality, and you get involved in Ida's increasing terror of the unknown. It's a marvellous small film and the greater and more interesting for its fascinating minimalism. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045931/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Desperate Moment (1953) Dirk Bogarde as a fugitive dealing with impossible odds to extricate himself from injustice in a very romantic war thriller in post war Germany. (9/10) 20 September 2017

A surprisingly neglected and unknown Dirk Bogarde thriller well up to the standard of Carol Reed's war dramas. Dirk is a Polish prisoner accused of having murdered a

266


British soldier, but the case is much more complicated. He is actually Dutch and lives only for the beautiful Mai Zetterling, and when he hears she is dead he doesn't care for anything any more but willingly confesses to the murder to save his friends, four fellow prisoners. This is only the introduction to a very tight thriller, mainly taking place in bombed out Hamburg and Berlin. The settings and atmosphere is very much the same as in Carol Reed's "The Man Between" with James Mason of the same year. Dirk Bogarde is no James Mason, but the thriller here is even more interesting and above all more romantic than in Carol Reed's parallel Berlin film. Both succeed in catching the monumental desolation of Berlin after the war and its fathomless tragedy of ruins and consequently compliment each other perfectly. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045681/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Beat the Devil (1953) (10/10) Humphrey Bogart associated with a bunch of hilarious scoundrels to their scandal end. 7 January 2018

What a wonderful comedy! In every scene it is evident how the director enjoyed filming it with such formidable actors cutting out such hilarious figures, all excelling each other in eccentric idiosyncracy. It's difficult to say who is best, they are all on top, Jennifer Jones as the flirty young wife, Gina Lollobrigida at her most beautiful and seductive, Robert Morley as the king of fools, Peter Lorre and all the others, and Humphrey Bogart giving probably his heartiest last laugh in all his films. It's a criminal comedy at its best bordering on parody all the way but with great irony and wit - the dialogue is thoroughly enjoyable and thick all the way, and the diction is perfect, even for those who speak with accents. I saw it 50 years ago and had forgotten everything except the car ride, the centerpiece of the comedy, and least of all did I remember that it was so hilariously funny. The only serious figure enters the last, and he has very little to say under the circumstances. This must be John Huston's funniest film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046414/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Pickup on South Street (1953) (9/10)

Richard Widmark challenging destiny with more difficult bargains than expected. 24 February 2018

Richard Widmark in his prime at his best as a pickpocket who does his job too well and picks a wallet with more than money in it, resulting in a chain reaction of awful events, turning a desperate man into a murderer with many casualties on the way both by bullets and fisticuffs. Thelma Ritter makes a deep impression as an old lady selling neckties. The thriller is very carefully filmed, the tempo is slow and a bit too

267


detailed in close-ups and long shots, but you can endure it for the sake of the story. This is definitely Sam Fuller's best film and probably the only one that will be remembered. There are no flaws, nothing to criticise or find wrong with, and the logic is watertight, although the dialog is dreadful in its drawling vulgarity, and it's not a film for those who only want action if it is fast. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046187/ The Kidnappers (1953) (10/10) Two children at a loss in a local civil war between hard-headed puritans 1 June 2018

The overwhelming genuineness makes this fim a masterpiece. Every detail is 100% genuine in the almost intimate rendering of primitive life among primitive people in the wilderness of Nova Scotia, where almost no one even can read - the only established standard and education allowed is a fiercely puritan one. If any book is allowed at all, it's the Bible - or, as the only other book mentioned, "The Pilgrim's Progress". Theodore Bikel as usual makes a great impression, here as the one outsider, a Dutch doctor who is loathed for his origin, since there has been one casualty from the island in the Boer war - this is 1904, but all the other actors are perfect as well, especially of course the children. Most impressing though is the tale that is told. It's really the story of a dog, no dog is allowed in the film, the only one appearing doesn't turn up until after half the film, and still it's all about a dog. The sinister grandpa won't have a dog, since dogs can't be eaten, and he only keeps animals for eating them. The two small boys eventually find something to cuddle with like a dog, keeping it away form the grown-ups to avoid their eating it up... It's a very heart-warming film, and the ladies have their important say as well, finally actually even overcoming the latent local civil war over the ownership of a tiny hill... The music is perhaps a little over-dramatising the events but very efficient as such. It's a unique film for its sustained absolute realism all the way, and the only film I can think of to come near it in character was "Johnny Belinda" also from Nova Scotia, but this film was all made in England. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046006/ The Limping Man (1953) (9/10)

268


Traumatic return to London after six years’ war into worse sweat and heat with women of mystery... 28 June 2018

Could a film start with a more captivating intrigue? As Lloyd Bridges lands in London after six years divorce from his beloved, he turns to a fellow passenger on the airfield for a cigarette, while a car stops some hundred yards off, a man on crutches gets out of it, loads a rifle and shoots the man as he stands with Lloyd Bridges. What a shocking welcome! And that's only the beginning. The intrigue rolls on and unfolds in constantly more intriguing complications, while the centre of the stage gradually unfolds as being a night club, of course, with an actress of both qualifications as an assistant to a magician (who knifes her in boxes) and an accomplished singer, and she is French. There is another actress too, that's Lloyd Bridges' sweetheart, but although she still loves him after six years, she is hopelessly tangled up in complications with, as it turns out, the man that was murdered and his murderer. That's only the beginning. It will take some trouble to entangle all this mess, which constantly gets more tangled. But the film actually succeeds in this, and everyone gets away with everything, but that's a different story... This would have been an ideal subject for Hitchcock, who would have gloried in magnifying the intrigues. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046001/?ref_=tt_urv Puccini (1953) (9/10) Veristic account of Puccini's fallacies, crises and victories 14 July 2018

Of course, you can only make a beautiful and heart-rending film on a romantic character like this. His operas are perhaps the most romantic ever written, at least musically, and his life was not very different from them. Like in "La Bohème", he had a hard time breaking out of the vicious circles of poverty and adversity but somehow stuck to his first love throughout his life. She is played by Märta Torén, one of the most promising Swedish film stars ever, whose career was abruptly ended at 30 after 10 years of only memorable films against Humphrey Bogart, Dana Andrews, Claude Rains, James Mason and here Gabriele Ferzetti, who makes a very credible portrait of the composer with all his lacks of character, he was not as bad as Wagner but almost, but some reviewers are right in pointing out that this is Märta Torén's film. She plays Elvira with great empathy, she waits at home for the incorrigible Puccini who never turns up, he betrays her with another love on stage, a primadonna who sings his tragediennes, and another girl out in the country is driven to despair by the presence of Puccini's personality and his ways. It is all very well

269


done, there are some very memorable scenes, especially the long one in the middle of the film concerning the opening night of "La Bohème" when Puccini is torn between the lady on stage and the mother of his child in the audience - it couldn't be easy for a man to be capable of so much charm and beautiful music. Of course he must get problems and give others problems. But his music remains eternally all right and will be sung as long as there will be opera performances - his love would not have created havoc if it was not overwhelming in heartfelt sincerity. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045057/ The Bigamist (1953) (10/10) Edmond O'Brien getting into a mess by actually only trying to please. 24 August 2018

This is both a very impressing and moving film, particularly by the excellent soft touch of the direction bringing out undreamed of qualities from Edmond O'Brien above all but also Joan Fontaine, who was never lovelier or more heart-rending in her innocence, although she usually was the prime actress for vulnerable but sustained and insistent convincing innocence. A special touch is added by Leith Stephens contributing with the music, which is almost overwhelingly appropriate throughout. Another special touch is Edmund Gwenn as Mr Jordan, who holds their fate in his hands and ultimately doesn't know how to handle it. This is the issue of the film, this problem can't be solved, the perpetrators have only been human, Edmond O'Brien has committed no iniquity, and his ladies are both perfectly honest and decent, as the judge ultimately points out. Like in her earlier social documentary film "Not Wanted" about single mothers with children, the problem is presented and given intimate exposure in all its complexities - and left for the audience to solve, which they as little as anyone else are capable of. It's therefore primarily a film that makes you think, bringing your attention to sides of human nature that you probably never encountered before, which is extremely valuable and almost educative. On top of that this is an artistically consummate film in both acting, cinematography, story, music and above all direction. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045557/?ref_=ur_urv Albert R.N. (1953) (9/10) Anthony Steel as artist in a war prison helping others to escape 7 September 2018

Lewis Gilbert was a very reliable director, not one of the top ones and not one of the most active, but the films he made are always well made, like for instance maybe the best James Bond, "You Only Live Twice". This is another of his very best, although in

270


black and white and behind barbed fences in a dreary muddy war prison camp. The story is a true one, and it is marvellously developed, gradually mounting in suspense and intrigue, as one of the Germans gets acceleratedly vicious in his frustration, taunted by his insolent but honest prisoners. His villainy is actually more outrageous than usual for bullying Germans in the war, which must lead to some sort of settlement. No one will be disappointed. There are many films like this, true stories of incidents and escape ordeals in war prison camps towards the end of the war, and this is clearly one of the best, almost on par with "The Password is Courage" (1962) with Dirk Bogarde, an equally true and fantastic war prison story of epic esacapes. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045487/?ref_=ur_urv A Personal Affair (1953) (10/10) A very personal affair 1 October 2018

It's all about love, the deadliest thing in the world, constantly causing suicides and billions of fatal heartbreaks. Here is another slant on this timeless eternal predicament - the most impossible thinkable love affair on only one side by a student of her teacher, and he doesn't even know it. Her crush leads to typically womanish oversensitive caprices, which in their turn cause avalanches of complications, totally unintended, of course, - but the most precarious thing about love is that it is always irresponsible when it is true. The victims simply can't be held responsible for their feelings or their consequences. Pamela Brown plays the opposite case - she has killed her feelings, she sees everything perfectly coldly, like a scientist dissecting or using live animals in a laboratory, she thinks she knows and controls everything and sees everything clearly, but she knows nothing, because she feels nothing. Having killed her love, she is dead, and if she steps in to meddle in a love case, she can only cause further damage. It's a drama of extremely high tension, almost like one of the most unendurable thrillers by Hitchcock, and it is marvellously filmed at that, with William Alwyn's tremendous music, the innovative cinematography making the dramatic cascades play an important part as an ominous accompaniment to the high tension drama. Glynis Johns as a seventeen year old girl is just that and couldn't be one year older this must be one of her best performances, although they are so many. And Gene Tierney is more beautiful than ever as the ideal wife - of Leo Genn, always a marvel of a safe character on screen, especially memorable as the doctor in "The Snakepit". This is truly a gem of highest psychological and human calibre, and it's perfectly natural if you want to cry your eyes out. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046181/?ref_=tt_urv

271


Operation Diplomat (1953) (9/10) Guy Rolfe as a kidnapped surgeon forced to operate on a kidnapped diplomat 10 October 2018

Brilliant thriller by the inimitable Francis Durbridge, the man behind the Paul Temple series, always sophisticated intrigues impossible to figure out with atmospherical ingredients as the plots always thicken. Guy Rolfe is perfect as the surgeon who is kidnapped to operate on a patient unknown, who appears to have been a kidnapped top diplomat and security chief whisked away to Berlin, but naturally there are complications. The tempo is high, the suspense constantly increases, but there will be no disappointments, although it will be impossible to get the hang of all of it. Another marvel adding to the intensity of the film is the very suggestive music by Wilfred Burns - I never saw his name in another film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046147/?ref_=ur_urv Human Desire (1953) (9/10) Lovers and killers on a train, all trying not to get mixed up and getting the more mixed up for trying not to... 23 November 2018

Glenn Ford is unusually good here, although he plays the same character as he always did, but here at least he doesn't talk and act too much but is kept more aptly at bay by the expert thriller director Fritz Lang, who once again surprises you by appearing totally new in his ways of getting into people. Gloria Grahame is always good but here better than ever as a helpless victim of her exposed weakness as married to the hoodlum Broderick Crawford, who is here worse than ever, but only as a type, not as a character, because his acting is marvellous, going constantly from bad to worse in one of the most convincing revelations on cinema of a man going piece by piece to perdition. I was disappointed by the Jean Gabin film on this story, which was downright depressing in spite of Jean Renoir's excellent direction, but this film is not depressing, although the same story but with a more human view of the situation. Glenn Ford is supremely reasonable all the way, he actually tries to help both the hopeless cases of the Buckley couple, and there is nothing wrong with the logics of the alterations here of Emile Zola's story. The Amphiteatrof music is terrific all the way and underlines Lang's fascinating direction and the very sophisticated cinematography. It's a great film on a bad story, Jean Renoir made the bad story even more destructive on film, but here at least you have genuine human feelings, in the despairing eyes of Gloria Grahame, the sharply investigating looks of Glenn Ford, and the exaggerated but marvellously convincing drunkenness, as an illustration of his helplessness, of Broderick Crawford. It's a small story of small people, which Fritz Lang succeeds in turning into a highly impressing film. 272


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047101/ All I Desire (1953) (9/10) Barbara Stanwyck as mother of a family she deserted 23 January 2019

Barbara Stanwyck as a fading cabaret actress is suddenly summoned by her daughter home to the small privincial town life she deserted many years ago for a family reunion with the husband and two other children she left so long ago for private reasons that gave her no choice. She doesn’t want to go, but it’s her youngest daughter graduating, so she feels she must, and of course meets with all kinds of traumas as she is confronted with old painful memories, especially as her former husband hasn’t been expecting her, she comes as an overwhelming surprise, and her oldest daughter refuses to have anything to do with her. So this is an extremely sensitive situation, but Douglas Sirk handles it perfectly with care, and so does Barbara Stanwyck and her husband Richard Carlson. It’s a psychological drama prying into all kinds of family problems of relationships, but it is beautifully well done. Just for security, Douglas Sirk has included some Chopin and Liszt and Shakespeare and even a recital of Robert Browning, which is something of a highlight. It’s Barbara Stanwyck’s film, you will melt at all those crises you will face with her, but the only way out is as usual the way through, and there is always another side waiting for you, especially in Douglas Sirk films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045492/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Front Page Story (1953) (10/10) Life at Fleet Street an ordinary day when everything happens 30 January 2019

This is a wonderful film of almost documentary character showing the life at a newspaper editorial office with Jack Hawkins in charge, happening to all kinds of incidents that have to be followed up and covered, an ordinary day’s work for an editor, and it is not easy. There are several very different stories that develop at the same time with that in common that none of them turns out as expected. A young widow (Eva Bartok) is at the Old Bailey charged with murder of her husband, who was dying anyway – it appears to have been some kind of a killing by mercy. A young mother with five kids is lying at the hospital on the operation table with no certain outcome of the operation. A scientist in a high position of nuclear physics is eager to have his message spread by the newspaper to the world while he conveys

273


atomic secrets to the enemy. And Jack Hawkins’ wife is leaving him after having been left alone too much. So there are four different dramas (at least) on the hands of the editorial, and they keep developing to major crises all four of them. The most interesting drama is that of the widow Eva Bartok. Jack Hawkins puts his most critical journalist Michael Goodliffe on the case, which leads to a dramatic climax after everything has gone wrong, questioning for serious the ethics and morals of journalism and showing upsetting interiors of inside stories. Finally there is the ultimate Front Page Story as an air crash consumes all public interest at the cost of what really matters concerning human values‌ It seldom happens that I want to see a film over again at once, but this was one of them. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047002/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Giuseppe Verdi (1953) (10/10) The Verdi saga told straight and sticking to essentials 9 February 2019

This is much more than just a musical biopic of Verdi. It is beautifully composed, just like all the music of Verdi himself, starting at the point of his dying, when he remembers his first wife, and then the first 40 minutes are all about their very tragic love story, which will make you start melting in tears, which then will go on throughout the film. After Margherita Barezzi, the first wife and her untimely death at only 26, following the deaths of both her children (the film includes only one and spares the audience the double tragedy), there is the case of his second wife, which it took him a long time to settle for. She was an experienced woman and famous singer who had had a number of lovers and children and therefore felt unworthy of Verdi, and the film tells a beautiful romanticized story of how they found each other all the same, his father-in-law Barezzi acting as the father in "La traviata". The film culminates with that opera, which definitely brought them together. It's an advantage that the film is in black and white, it enhances the traumas, the pathos and the seriousness of the tragedies of Verdi's life and gives justice to his personality. This is a classic not only of musical biopic films but of film history, as it is more a study in human compassion and depth of feelings of love, actually touching the core of the very mystery of love, in a manner which only Italian films have been truly capable of - I am thinking most of all of the films of Vittorio de Sica. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045821/ Pane, amore e fantasia (1953) (10/10)

274


Unsurpassed Italian comedy blended with sparkling neorealism 23 April 2019

This is the first film of a trilogy, all dealing with the amorous adventures of Maresciallo Carotenuto, played by Vittorio de Sica, his fruitless efforts and constant adversities, with always something to save him in the end. The first film in this series is the best, completely original and natural, and it made a tremendous box office success, why it was safe to continue the project with two more films. The main cause of its tremendous success was of course Gina Lollobrigida as "la Bersagliera", the prettiest and poorest girl in town. The town in question is located way up in the Abruzzo, the top of the Appennines between Rome and Pescara in the very heart and center of Italy, which is a very poor and rural area prone to earthquakes - Aquila is near by. The Maresciallo is new to the village and happens to be a womanizing bachelor - for some reason he has not been a family success, in spite of his good looks and charming ways - no woman could possibly resist him, and still it never turns out well. Destiny and the obligation of gentlemanly prudence forces him to give up any temptation to the overwhelming naturalness of Gina, as she is too young and has another sheepish cavalier, while his amorous directions instead are directed to the local midwife (Marisa Merlini), a no less charming but more mature and experienced woman in her best age, who appears to have an illegitimate son, though. But the Maresciallo is incurable in his optimism and is happy to settle for her, when the Bersagliera anyway remains hopelessly out of bounds. It's the absolute naturalness which is the chief charm of this film which makes it perfectly irresisitible all the way, the highlight being Gina's furious confinement in the local prison. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046159/?ref_=ur_urv Roman Holiday (1953) (10/10) Princess Audrey Hepburn on her own at the mercy of Gregory Peck - with success 22 May 2019

Everything is fortunate and perfect about this film, only the best things could be said about it all around, it's a delightful comedy with great actors, Gregory Peck politely and consistently allowing Audrey Hepburn to shine and dominate the film from beginning to end, Gregory in the light of her gorgeous eyes appearing rather like a gloomy shadow of her, and he didn't even get that story. But the supreme ace of the film is the script. Dalton Trumbo was at the time harassed by the McCarthy inquisition and could not use his name to his film scripts in public but continued writing scripts nevertheless, and this is one of his most eloquent. William Wyler's fine sense of good taste and scenery add to the supremacy of the film, and particularly fascinating are the sets of the embassy, filmed in Palazzo Colonna. This is perhaps the best of all royal comedies.

275


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046250/ Lili (1953) (10/10) An orphan girl at the mercy of carnival entertainers 25 August 2019

The action is somewhere in Provence, France, in a small town somewhere in the foothills of the Alps. A lonely 16-year old girl hopes to find her deceased father's friend there, who would give her a job, but he is dead. Instead she gets mixed up with three men attached to a vagabond carnival, one of them, Jean-Pierre Aumont, is an irresistible magician, while the other two, Mel Ferrer and Kurt Kasznar, run the puppet show. Mel Ferrer is the boss, but he is hopelessly bitter after having been turned by the war from a dashing dancer into an invalid. Leslie Caron, the girl, calls him "the angry man", and indeed he has reasons enough for his bitterness. They have no contact, but she gets into contact with the puppets, and by her talking with them like with real beings, they make a success. But Leslie Caron has a hopeless crush on Jean-Pierre Aumont without knowing he is married to his leading lady Zsa Zsa Gabor as predominating as ever. It's the Mel Ferrer character that is the chief interest of the film and story, and this is both Leslie Caron's and his best film. There are two outstanding dancing sequences, one in the beginning and one in the end, but everything in between is also poetry. The dialog is always pregnant offering constant food for thought and reflection, while the music crowns the masterpiece no one will ever forget this overwhelmingly charming song. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046000/ Call Me Madam (1953) (8/10) A Balkan kingdom in desperate need of American dollars, provided by Ethel Merman 30 August 2019

There have been a few other features from Lichtenburg, located somewhere among the mountains in the Balkans, probably in today's Romania, and all their plots have been equally ridifculous. This time Ethel Merman (of all absurd American ladies) is sent there as an ambassador to deal with the urgent need of loans in the bankrupt country, which cannot even afford a dowry for the crown princess' wedding, and she instantly falls flat to George Sanders as their foreign minister, who wants anything but American money: like a gernuine European he feels his country is not for sale for American dollars. Fortunately in Ethel Merman's luggage there is also Donald O'Connor, who saves the film together with Vera Ellen as the Princess Royal, and

276


they have two magnificent dancing scenes together - the film is worth watching only for this. George Sanders is reliably eloquent as usual and helps in saving the film from the disastrously tedious vulgarities of Ethel Merman. The music isnt very good either - apparently Irving Berling was already getting old at this stage, and none of these melodies catch on. It's great entertainment and eloquently made by Walter Lang, but never worth seeing more than once. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045592/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 King Lear (1953) (9/10) Orson Welles’ King Lear truncated for TV 3 September 2019

In spite of the shortcomings of this production, the play reduced to a third, a budget production for TV with very limited stage room and a number of characters missing, this is an astounding production, not only for Orson Welles being one of the best Lears ever, but all the actors are excellent, and I have never seen a better fool of Lear's than Alan Badel, here still quite young. In spite of the limited TV studio assets, several of the scenes provide spectacular scenarios, especially the banquet scene at Goneril's, and what a marvellousd idea to make the hut on the moor into a windmill! The TV film standard is also miserable in its stone age flaws, but Peter Brook has made an excellent job of the direction and the editing of the play. The one thing that is not excellent is the music, which is too modern and experimental to suit the 16th century costumes and Celtic settings. Orson Welles always celebrated triumphs as an actor, and there could hardly be found any role more suited for his majestic greatness and wide range of stage ability than this one. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045960/?ref_=tt_urv Forbidden (1953) (8/10) Tony Curtis finding his old love in Macao 5 September 2019

Although you recognize the set-up from "Gilda", it's the same story but in Macao instead of Buenos Aires, with Lyle Bettger for a night club manager without political ambitions instead of the megalomanisc James MacReady, with no Rita Hayworth but instead the much more ordinary Joanne Dru, and with a very young Tony Curtis chasing her to the ends of the earth, you will not be disappointed by this variation. The story is good and almost better than "Gilda", but the major plus of this interesting film is Victor Sen Yung as the pianist factotum, who knows everything and everyone and is a genius. In general, the dialog is thoroughly intelligent and enjoyable in this film. There is not much cinematography, the settings are rather

277


cheap like in a low budget B feature, but nevertheless it is worth watching especially for the very exotic story with its consistently tightening suspense. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045780/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Island in the Sky (1953) (10/10) The constant agony of death followed by the triumph of survival against all odds 30 September 2019

This film surprised me by its excellence in both realism, story and players, especially John Wayne, whom I had never seen so good before. It's a human drama of survival and very hardcore in the masculine line. There are some women in it also but only fragmentarily, as they comfortably at home worry about the ordeals of their men. You suffer with them in the wilderness, you freeze with them in the snow, you share their agony in the constant frustration of knowing that no one knows where you are, and it's all perfectly realistic, like an authentic documentary. It couldn't have been better. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045919/ Charade (1953) 9/10 James Mason and Pamela Mason acting together for good and for worse 15 October 2019

This is an elegant and very professional film made by Mr. and Mrs. James Mason with themselves acting (together with others) in three very different stories, one involving a heinous murder, the other (the most interesting one) made on a story by Alexander Dumas about Austrian military discipline and code of honour put to the severest possible test, and the third being a comedy about a workaholic business man. The dialogue is extremely sharp and pregnant all the way, so that it's difficult sometime to keep pace with the intelligence, but above all it's great entertainment. It is very akin to the three films made on Somerset Maugham's short stories a few years earlier, Trio, Quartet and Encore, it's the same kind of sustained story-tettling with intensive dialogue and action, so this is a film you undoubtedly will return to some day.for refreshment of your intelligence. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045620/ The Master of Ballantrae (1953) (8/10) 278


The massacre of Robert Louis Stevenson This was Robert Louis Stevenson's greatest novel, which the film producers have made mincemeat of. There are some good qualities of the film, the acting is good, especially by Errol Flynn and Roger Livesey, and there is a sumptuous entr'act in the Caribbean with "Captain Blood"-parties, lustful dancers and dashing piracy, which is completely out of Robert Louis Stevenson and definitely derails the film from the book. The introductory part with the civil war and crusade of Bonnie Prince Charlie to recover the throne of his ancestors is well done, but then the book is abandoned to more and more become like a soap opera. In the book, for instance, Alison voluntarily takes sides with Henry against the rightful heir for all his deceits, while here Hollywood makes an artificial love story that lasts between Alison and Errol Flynn, debasing the book entirely for the sake of superficial romanticism. Perhaps you would find the film likeable with Errol Flynn if you haven't read the book, but if you know the true character of the Heir of Ballantrae and observe what Hollywood has turned him into, you might hate the film for it. It's decent enough as a swashbuckling entertainment, and Errol Flynn's swan song as such, but you will not be able to forgive what they did to Robert Louis Stevenson in this film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046054/ The House of the Arrow (1953) (9/10) A rich old lady dies and leaves everything to the prime suspect 1 December 2019

This was screened several times, and no wonder, since the plot is a mystery that even transcends most of Agatha Christie's professional mysteries. Poisoning is supected, but no trace of any poison can be found. The sole heiress immediately becomes implicated and accused, but no proof can be found against her. A lovely maid is another suspect, but her innocence actually leads to solving the mystery in the end. A jealous cousin becomes seriously suspected by the police from the beginning, since he so vehemently accuses the heiress, but he has to take everything back. No one can guess the outcome, which will be a surprise. Oskar Homolka as the police investigator gloriously dominates the film and adds to its picturesque character of mystery veiled in enigmas, and it must be one of his best films. The music is also perfect, suits the mood exactly, like Anton Karas' cither in "The Third Man", and is actually a major enjoyment in the film. The cinematography is also interesting for its depth and fascinating treatment of the environment in spite of the settings being rather clastrophobic, but the film surmounts that temptation. In brief, a golden treat for lovers of criminal mysteries. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045889/

279


The Intruder (1953) (9/10) A colonel's care for his soldiers, especially after the war 14 December 2019

The colonel Jack Hawkins coming home surprises a burglar, who happens to be one of his former soldiers. He can't understand how such a good soldier could happen to a criminal course and can't just let the case slip away. He engages himself in the mystery of the fallen soldier, finds other soldiers of the same company, and gradually gets a thread or two with which to unravel the mystery. The mystery proves a tragedy, and the final sequences out in the country are heart-breaking in their revelations of sheer bad luck derailing into overwhelming misfortunes. There are many flashbacks, you get back into the war and some of its worst ordeals, you only catch faint traces of the soldier in question at first, but gradually your eyes are opened to his case. It's not a great film, but it's a great story, and it is well filmed, and definitely one of Jack Hawkins' best. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048211/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Sword and the Rose (1953) (9/10) Gorgeous insight into the romantic times of the first part of the reign of Henry VIII. 14 December 2019

It's important to remember that this is actually a true story, Henry VIII had a sister like that, and she finally got her Charles Brandon after many ordeals on the way. This Walt Disney production directed by Ken Annakin is a sumptuous costume film, and your eyes will gloat in the flamboyant colours and scenery - it is a regular feast for the eyes all the way. Although Charles Major's novel romanticised the true story somewhat, and the film has romanticised it even more, there is still a great amount of original charm coming so to say directly from the 16th century, giving a very positive and inspiring picture of the golden age of the Tudors. The novel was my grandfather's favlourite novel, he read it many times, and it was by surprise I came across the film and found it was a screening of that novel. Richard Todd is irresistible as Brandon, as is also Glynis Johns as Mary and James Robertson Justice as a slightly overdone Henry VIII, but above all it is a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting film, more Hollywood than Tudor England, but still with very much of the Tudor spirit well taken care of. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046387/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Knights of the Round Table (1953)

280


(8/10) Robert Taylor as Lancelot and Ava Gardner as Guinevere getting into trouble as usual 15 January 2020

Everything is wrong here. There is no effort at reaching somewhere near any historical truth, and all the characters are hopelessly Hollywoodised into casual superficiality. Mel Ferrer makes a decent enough King Arthur, Robert Taylor is too much like Ivanhoe and not at all like the dashinbg charming Frenchman of the myths, Ava Gardner makes a magnificiently beautiful Guinevere, but also her character is lost in the Hollywood stereotypic, while Morgan le Fay and Mordred are hopelessly demonised into the least convincing characters of all. Only Felix Aylmer as Merlin stands out with some credibility, but no books ever mentioned any murder of him. It's all a fake show to suit Hollywood standards and dazzle a superficial audiience with ordinary meaningless clichĂŠs, while the one advantage of the film is the brilliant technicolor with all those flamboyant costumes. There are some boisterous battle scenes as well, and the scenery is magnificent throughout, but you never get a clear view of Camelot. Miklos Rosza's pompous music adds to the general impression of just ceremonious imposing pageantry. It's all right for a film, but even "Ivanhoe" by the same team the year before had more depth and interest to show in a tragic story that never has been successfully recovered in its truth, although it is all too evident that very much was hidden there. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045966/ Street Corner (1953) (9/10) "Coppers in skirts" 18 February 2020

This is a most amazing film for its genuinely documentary character and highly developed polyphony. Many characters are involved and intertwined in this drama, led by female policemen, who mainly have to deal with women in trouble - and their children. There are three great women stories of which at least one ends positively and surprisingly well. There are many dramatic episodes, like saving children from falling down from skyscrapers, tracing evasive and invisible gangster rackets involving innocent people, and all the criminality of a huge town but on a small scale. It is a very human police film with the human approach being extra accentuated by the female touch. This is a film that every female policeman should watch and learn from. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046378/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 The Egyptian (1954)

281


(8/10) Egyptian brain surgery 13 centuries B.C. with mummies and all that. 19 September 2016

The cast is excellent, with Michael Wilding presenting the most convincing performance as the Pharaoh Ekhnaton in the difficult dilemma of being 13 centuries before his time, which actually was historically correct. All the rest is fantasy, although mummies were made indeed and most indefatigably in Egypt for three millennia, it was their prominent speciality, by the help of opening the brain in a kind of prehistoric brain surgery. The protagonist's father excels in this medical art and passes it on to his son, who makes his fortune at the court of Pharaoh, who occasionally suffers from headaches and epileptic fits, so he needs his brain physician. Victor Mature plays Sinuhe's best friend, the more pragmatic and less altruistic coming leader of the future in battles and slaughters, called Horemheb, while Gene Tierney also makes a credible and politically more realistic sister to a Pharaoh only good for sun- and star-gazing. Bella Darvi plays another important part as the ruin of the hero physician, who makes a total mess of his so promising career by reckless passion. Peter Ustinov saves him time and time again only to lose him in the end. Finally there is Jean Simmons, the real heroine of the tale and the only actual martyr among them all, who represents all that they should be living for, presenting that meaning of life that Sinuhe so eagerly quests for, which he ignores as the stupid fool he is. The music of Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Neuman is also apt and perfect all the way like the splendid photography and Michael Curtiz' direction, – so what then is so wrong about this film? It's the story itself that is not at all convincing. All the weakness is found in Mika Waltari's novel, an interesting story by all means, but he understood nothing about Egypt. Another author who wrote novels of ancient Egypt was Joan Grant, whose versions are as almost palpably credible as Waltari's is more like science fiction. Not even the dialogue is good, although the film has improved it by cutting as much of the nonsense as possible. Still, some of the best episodes of the book are missing from the film, above all Sinuhe's adventures in Crete. It's a good film, nothing bad could be said about it, and we must try to forgive Mika Waltari's weakness for fantasizing in the manner of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Flash Gordon and Cecil B. DeMille rather than trying to actually recreate ancient Egypt. Ultimately, only Michael Wilding remains truly convincing. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046949/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Rhapsody (1954) (8/10) Elizabeth Taylor as a failed pianist makes her choice between a violinist and a pianist. 6 January 2015

This is one of Elizabeth Taylor's more interesting features, made while she was still at the top of her beauty and talent, sensitively portraying the love of two musicians, one decisively preferring his musical career to her, the other succumbing to her and

282


almost perishing in the process in "a marriage of inconvenience". Vittorio Gassman and John Ericson are the two musicians, a violinist and a pianist, but although you would prefer Gassman all the way, Ericson actually improves, while both hopelessly remain in the shadows of her. The best actors, however, are Louis Calhern as the very realistic father and Michael Chekhov as the music professor, who knows the delicacy of his trade. The music is first class all the way, so that in between, when there is no music, you long for the next musical moment to turn up. Best of all is the cafĂŠ scene in the beginning, when all the guests appear to be musical students spontaneously forming an orchestra to accompany Vittorio Gassman. The real violinist is, however, Michael Rabin, and the real pianist of all the solo performances is Claudio Arrau, at the time perhaps the best pianist in the world. The film begins and ends with Rachmaninov's second and crowns the delightful trio drama with a conclusion which feels right in spite of all. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047408/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Suddenly! (1954) (9/10) A serious attempt to murder the President going wrong, even though Frank Sinatra is leading it. 21 July 2017

Frank Sinatra makes a startling performance as a qualified murderer, and he does it well. His counterpart is Sterling Hayden as the chief of police, and they match each other perfectly. The story is a thriller building up in constantly increasing tension with eloquent surprises on the way, in which both the mother and child play important parts. There are many parallels in the set-up to "High Noon", and a number of scenes and situations are strikingly reminiscent and clearly influenced from Zinnemann's film, but the story here is totally different and queasily parallel to the president Kennedy murder. There are a number of other curious coincidental matters, Lee Harvey Oswald saw this film a few days before the Kennedy assassination, and you can see the rest below under the Trivia. Montgomery Clift turned the part down, while Frank Sinatra had the guts to make it, and it's one of his major if not best performances. Of course, it can only end one way, so you need not worry, but it's expertly made, and you will be sure to bite your nails. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047542/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Salka Valka (1954) (10/10) The hard life of a single mother and her daughter in a small fishing community in Iceland with heart-rending love stories 23 April 2016

283


Halldór Killian Laxness' (birthday today, the only Nobel prize winner in literature of Iceland,) great novel of Iceland in the 20s was originally on purpose written in English to make it sell and to make it a film. The film wasn't made until after 25 years and in Sweden, but then became a unique lyrical-expressionistic masterpiece and Arne Mattsson's best film, tragically underrated, with above all a heart-breaking performance by Margareta Krook as the mother, but all the actors are outstanding: Birgitta Pettersson as the young Salka, Folke Sundquist as her one great love of a lifetime who constantly fails her, Erik Strandmark as the scoundrel abusing everyone and making money on it, a fantastic portrait of a reckless adventurer who means no harm and can't understand all the harm he is causing, although his progress is devastating to almost everyone, Sigge Fürst as the Salvation Army Captain, the one who understands something of the tragedy and becomes victim of it himself, Gunnel Broström as the hard-boiled, mature Salka who still has a bleeding heart, and many others. Special credit to the fantastic photo of Sven Nykvist with constant close-ups of striking intimacy and breath-taking landscape scenes of the wilderness of Iceland, and the overwhelmingly beautiful music by Sven Sköld, perfectly fitted to the overwhelmingly poetical imagery of the authentic landscapes of Iceland and the heart-breaking story, completing the very Nordic sentiment of the whole epic and driving its melancholy almost to unbearable sadness and nostalgia. This is Scandinavian neo-realism at its best, made in the same vein as Ingmar Bergman's "Sawdust and Tinsel" ("Gycklarnas afton"). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047442/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Magnificent Obsession (1954) (8/10) A millionaire messes up the lives of others and spends his life trying to make up for it, partly making things even worse, but at least reaching somewhere. 26 April 2015

How does this 60 year old classic stand today? Is it still credible and worth seeing? Amazingly so. It's a story for all times and very carefully directed with outstanding actors each one contributing to a fascinating message of actually some important educational bearing – this is a very constructive film, and everyone can learn from it. Standing apart among the actors, with no prominent role but the more important for his background significance, is Otto Kruger, the very tolerant doctor who patiently stands by and helps Rock Hudson along, a good-for-nothing millionaire, who gets into some conscience trouble when his carelessness results in the death of a local legend and hero of a doctor, whereupon Rock Hudson seizes the ambition to as best as he can replace him, especially since he falls in love with the widow, Jane Wyman, who because of him gets into some serious trouble. Consequently Rock Hudson gets a lifetime work of setting her right again, which seems hopeless. This is a sobbing story of some considerable dimensions, and you can't see the whole thing through without tissues, that's for sure. On top of that, to underscore the emotional self-indulgence in this monumental sob story, some of Chopin's most beautiful melodies are orchestrated with singing violins, even accompanied at times with a chorus of angels. Well, it couldn't be more sublimely sentimental. Apart from all the overwhelming charm of photographic

284


beauty and scenery and all these ideal people, the message remains and gets through, and it's an important lesson which it's well worth to take care of and remember, which could be somewhat summed up by: your greatest credits are those you never intended and never wanted to have but worked for nonetheless, just for the good of it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047203/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Private Hell 36 (1954) (9/10) Ida Lupino singing a strange plot into business with disastrous consequences for everyone involved. 17 May 2017

Brilliant intrigue getting you on a wayward journey through webs and jams of complications, especially concerning relationships, the outcome of which is impossible to guess – you can't even guess what's round the corner. The film opens brilliantly with a regular burglary getting into trouble with hard knocks completely ruining a well furnished drugstore, and that's only the introduction. The curious thing is, that although nothing much happens for the next 30 minutes or so, as the two policemen set out an an impossible quest in search of a haystack to begin with in order to be able to start looking for a needle in it, which enterprise involves some boring routine, which not even horse races can brighten up, the film is tremendously exciting all the way, simply because you can't possibly know what to expect. Then Ida Lupino suddenly is helpful. She is the star of the film, she always makes interesting characters of more than one shade and deep shadows into it, and here she really (unintentionally) gets her policeman involved in a serious fall. Don Siegel was a genius comparable with Ben Hecht for poignant dialogue and smashing stories. When the plot finally gets going here, things really happen unexpectedly, and mystery is added to the complications, until everything is resolved in the end with a wonderful sens morale, for a gratifying release out of the unbearable excitement. One mystery remains though after things get settled down. You'll never know what happened to Ida Lupino afterwards. She will probably just go on singing, maybe even "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", like she did when she got the plot started. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047370/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Prince Valiant (1954) (8/10) Prince Valiant fighting his way with a vengeance for his lady and rights at the Round Table

285


13 February 2016

It can't be helped, but this is great fun. Robert Wagner as the angry brat constantly fighting everyone, the young Janet Leigh as a blonde bombshell with her hair to the bottom in Briton tight dress, James Mason as the total double-crossing villain with hidden agendas, thronging vikings with bulky horns on every helmet climbing over each other in crowded battle scenes with the whole castle on fire, and so on – this is great entertainment, a medieval star wars version with very little difference from the space conflicts, action all the way and ridiculous love complications, which Hollywood always specialized in, and one more impressing castle than the other – this was only two years after "Ivanhoe" and in the same vein but without Sir Walter Scott – this was instead based on newspaper cartoons, the best one certainly, but nonetheless – there is something missing in the dialogue and the human intrigue, a bit too superficial to be credible. The triumph however is Franz Waxman's marvelous music, which adds color and temperament to every scene and actually bestows much of the dramatic effects that the actual film is missing. The one who is out of joint is the director Henry Hathaway, who can't quite get his actors honestly alive. They act like dummies in a costume school play and even hesitate occasionally, as if they don't quite remember their repartee, but that's the only foible. The party could have done with a slight portion humor, but the final battle, when the whole school is torn down by the loud banging of clashing swords, is satisfactory enough for a climax of a good show. Splendid fireworks of the best of cartoons brought on to the screen! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047365/?ref_=nv_sr_2 An Inspector Calls (1954) (10/10) Cinematic chamber theatre at its very best: an intriguing example of criminological metaphysics J.B.Priestley's most famous play is an ingenious composition of knots tied up into an overwhelming mess of guilt and human weakness with many hard lessons learned on the way, until it all dissolves into a trifle, but then the real serious business begins, which we may know nothing about but are left to guess wildly at the consequences... The play-acting is fantastic all the way including the minutest details, like for instance the small girl in the fish and chips shop stating her order exactly before wiping her nose. Alastair Sim is always eerily fascinating with his microcosmic acting where the smallest hints import the greatest significance, and Bryan Forbes, quite young here still, excels in a very variegated display of different sides of a spoiled rake, a mother's boy in the worst sense of the word, but comes out of it alive and perhaps better than the others. This is a dream play for any director, who is bound to have a very good time with it including the actors, and the elegance, the comfortable environment with sofas and boudoirs, also including the smoky theatre bar, adds to the charm and entertainment. This is a theatre classic perfectly transformed into cinema with flashbacks and poignant camera and music effects that must charm anyone at any time. It is all set in 1910-12, but it definitely strikes the timeless zone at once and keeps it there, underscored by what we never shall know will happen next...

286


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047119/?ref_=nv_sr_2 The Sleeping Tiger (1954) Alexis Smith at the mercy of the dangerous criminal Dirk Bogarde brought home by her husband. 23 July 2017

There is always something unpleasant and morbid about Joseph Losey's films as if they were innately self-destructive, you always sit waiting for the worst, and it always comes, but you never know how, and that's the worst of it. This film is slightly different from his ordinary ones, with above all an impressing camera work slanting towards almost Bergmanesque expressionism, but the dominant trait is the impressing acting by the three main characters, Alexis Smith, always beautiful and stylish, Dirk Bogarde, always slyly intelligent and unpredictable, and Alexander Knox, always on the safe and right side of reason and humanity. He is here a psychologist venturing on the interesting but risky experiment of housing a criminal (Bogarde) instead of turning him over to the police, in an effort to straighten him out. He gets straightened out but at the cost of Alexis Smith, Dr. Knox' wife, who finds her own tiger inside herself. There is more than one tiger getting roused from sleep and every day routine in this psychological thriller of mainly reasoning and experimenting - there is a gun but no bloodshed. The raw music of saxophones constantly insisting on vulgarity adds to the decadent atmosphere of human decay and perdition, like in so many of Losey's films if not all of them, but this is certainly one of his best. The Soho scenes contrast sharply against the orderly clinic and home of Dr. Knox and add some extra suggestive noir perfume to the dark drama of passion that never should have been called forth. Alexis Smith is always excellent, but I have never seen her better than here. It's a film of many raised eyebrows and some worries, but it is brilliantly realized with impressing, convincing psychology and great intelligence all the way. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047505/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Carmen Jones (1954) (8/10) Ingenious translation of the Carmen drama into the deep south. A colourful and imaginative rendering of the eternal "Carmen" drama in the deep south with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandrige good enough as the soldier and his fatality, but for me the star of the film is Pearl Bailey as "Frankie", whose first appearance at the Villas Pasta scene immediately lifts the film to a higher level, and her performance in the film continues to sparkle throughout. Many of the scenes shine with originality in their often ingenious translation from the Andalusian stage to that of the deep south, and one of the most impressing is soon in the beginning, when Carmen Jones breaks loose from Harry Belafonte under his transport of her as a prisoner in a jeep. Of course, much of the lustre of Bizet's opera is lost in 287


translation, especially since this is not an opera but a musical, and the texts are all Broadway and nothing of Prosper MerimĂŠe. The style is convincing enough, though, and the only disappointment is the substitution of Escamillo with a boxing champion, who is not very dashing but rather the opposite. The glory and drama of the bullfighting is replaced by a crude boxing match. At least, there is nothing wrong with the music, it's all Bizet and all his best tunes of the opera with only a few missing, and with such a golden magic music all through you can even gild the deep south in its most torpid and the dreariest Chicago slum with great lyrical drama, lasting charm and beauty. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046828/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Senso (1954) (10/10) Visconti's glorious realism celebrating triumphs in peace and war, passion and treason. 21 April 2017

Luchino Visconti was first of all an opera director, and this was his most opera-like film. Another opera director, Franco Zeffirelli, was one of the co-directors with Francesco Rosi. The film actually begins with an opera performance at the Phoenix Theatre in Venice 1866 with the dramatic climax of Verdi's "Il trovatore", which sets the film flourishing from the start – the opening scenes are cinematographically the best of the whole film, but the realism is absolute all the way in every detail and just worth seeing over and over again for that. At the same time, it's a typical Visconti film, unmasking every human illusion on the way down the abyss of human selfdeceit, self-degradation and decay. You can't really sympathize with any of the two leading characters, as they both lose control completely almost from the very beginning and don't hesitate to at every possible moment making it worse. The consequential outrageously brutal reality is horrendously shocking in its totally unemotional outcome. But the players are excellent, and it's no easy parts they are playing. To this comes the gorgeous use of Bruckner's music, particularly his seventh symphony, the second movement, and I don't think Bruckner's music has been used in any other film. Here it is the more perfect, sumptuously illustrating the opera-like melodrama by adding weight and pathos to the doomed romance. This would have been Visconti's most accomplished masterpiece, if he hadn't ten years later made the even finer "The Leopard". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047469/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Black Widow (1954) (8/10) Van Heflin finds a hanged girl in his bathroom and is blamed for murder – an awkward case. Pity about a promising and talented young girl who gets out of purpose by falling in love with the wrong person, since he is married to the wrong woman. Van Heflin makes the best out of a hopelessly incriminating mess, as a hanged girl is found in

288


his apartment whom he has been shielding and helping. He is also married, and his wife is not happy about it. Ginger Rodgers stands aloof and freely abuses everyone, as she is entitled to it as the leading diva and primadonna, but she is actually the real victim of the plot, and she can't help it. The real tragedy is not the girl's, who proves a major disappointment as she actually seems to get what she deserves, an ambitious blue–stocking with some certain talent but no sense to cultivate it, the real tragedy is not Van Heflin's either, although he has every reason to feel paranoically persecuted, which he is, but by sheer accident of circumstances and by nobody's fault, while the real tragedy is Ginger Rodgers', who isn't even aware of it, but her downfall is so monumental that it can't even be shown. It happens after the film is finished, and Van Heflin actually starts suggesting her efficient defense. It's a lush thriller of wonderful salon architecture with all New York at your feet from the balcony, where the talented young authoress is wasting her talent on doting on the wrong guy, and Nunnally Johnson as both author, producer and director has made an interesting enough entertainment, but something is seriously lacking. It's too polished to be natural and therefore not very convincing. The music helps the production with some extra charm, especially Richard Strauss, who has been helpful with some musical loans, but the tragedy is not tragic, and the romance is not romantic. Van Heflin in his righteous fury as the unintended victim carries most part of the drama on his shoulders and does it well, while Gene Tierney doesn't help him much. You lack the solid sense of realism, it's all too artificial, but then the characters are all established and rich celebrities of the New York jet set, and perhaps such people act and live that way. Intriguing, to say the least, but you will soon forget the whole incident, until after some years you run across the film again and recognize that you've seen it before and has to admit you've forgotten the whole thing and will probably do it again... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046791/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954) War thriller at sea for efficient nail-biting, with Dirk Bogarde getting desperate. (9/10) 20 September 2017

This is a surprisingly efficient rendering of one of many rather unknown but important operations in the second world war, the rescuing of stranded air pilots shot down by Germans and landed in the North Sea. Sea Otters and boats had to search for them in bad weather and stormy seas amid mine fields and over vast areas, and sometimes some could be rescued, even if snatched right out of the claws of the enemy almost getting at them first. This film in addition features some excellent actors in leading roles, like Nigel Patrick as the almost bullying leader of the rescue crew, bu he just had to be like that, Michael Redgrave as custodian of state secrets at peril stranded in a dinghy in the middle of nowhere in the North Sea, with Dirk Bogarde in a critical role as a major security risk among the shipwrecked. The film is partly unbearable, as it doesn't hesitate to give a very intimate insight into the conditions of the stranded on board the dinghy in hard weather night and day on the threshold of death, but it is well worth waiting for the finale. Let's see if you have any nails left after that.

289


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047463/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Tiefland (1954) (10/10) Leni Riefenstahl's last masterpiece and farewell, 25 September 2017

Her last film is an amazing testimony to her amazing mastership as not only a director but innovator of photography and filming. In every way it is a unique film for its picture composition, for its performances (with herself as the dancing gypsy) and above all for its virtuoso camera work. The highlights are of course the introducing fight with the wolf and its sequel, the other fight in the finale. The dramatic tension is extreme in all the scenes out of the village, while the village as a contrast appears as a den of evil and intrigue. The story is simple. A marquess has money problems and therefore wants to marry a rich heiress, the daughter of the mayor, and there is nothing wrong with that, they actually get married, but the marquess also falls in love with the dancing gypsy girl. In order to have both he makes a double marriage, the other one being a fake, as he marries the gypsy to a naïve but very honest shepherd. As a powerful patron he thinks he can use the shepherd's marriage as a cover for keeping his mistress, but of course it doesn't quite work out as he had thought. Leni Riefenstahl was 52 when she completed the film, which she had worked on for many years during the war difficulties, and her performance is perhaps the most amazing of the three main characters – she was also a dancer as a young woman, but when you see her dancing here it's impossible to guess that she is more than 35 at most. The music also adds to the extreme romanticism and drama of the film. Eugene d'Albert was the composer, and it's the Vienna Philharmonics. It couldn't be better. Many have tried to interpret the film politically, turning it to her settlement with Nazism (the theme of the fight with the wolf), but that is doing the film an injustice. She was never actually interested in politics and knew nothing about it, she was merely interested in art, especially pictures and aestheticism, and the film is nothing but a dramatic-romantic work of art driven to extremes. Is is as unique and outstanding as the best works of Orson Welles and Hitchcock but of a totally different and even more unique kind. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046431/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Broken Lance (1954) (10/10)

290


Epic family drama about pride, racism, injustice and the problem of being right without getting it. 29 December 2017

There is much symbolism here. What on earth is the meaning of that lonely dog running across the desert in the very opening scene? Don't worry. It will come back for two more appearances, once when one of the duller boys tries to shoot it, averted by Joe, and to conclude the film with a proper exit. And it's not a dog. The other great symbolism is indicated by the title, the broken lance, which isn't explained until in the end but is actually the major theme of the film: the racism problem between whites, Indians and Mexicans. It takes some time before Spencer Tracy makes his entry, and when he does you are well prepared. He has already been introduced on a portrait at the governor's, an imposing self-glorious portrait that boasts his mightiness, which is torn away from him shred by shred during the course of the film by his own fallibility. But what a long and grand fall, and how great it makes this character! It could really be described as a Lear of the Western. But this is not a western. It's a family drama and more like a Greek tragedy than anything else, though masked as something of regular western, but the characters go much deeper than what they show. Richard Widmark as the oldest son who has been misused all his life by his father is actually the villain, but you must understand him and you can't really judge him, just as Joe can't either. Joe is more complex as the youngest brother, son of an Indian woman and not of the mother of the others, and he is constantly brooding and has reasons enough for it. Robert Wagner is almost as good as Richard Widmark and Spencer Tracy, while only Jean Peters falls a little behind. The central scene, though, and what triggers the drama in the middle of the film is the tremendous settlement between Tracy and the governor, E.G.Marshall, whom Tracy made a governor and reminds him of, but that doesn't help. You can feel Tracy's explosion within although he barely shows it, which only makes it the more tremendously awesome. His most majestic scene though is his last one. This is Spencer Tracy's film flanked by all the others at their best, which add to make this film one of the best of all westerns, although it's much more than a western. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046808/?ref_=tt_urv Shield for Murder (1954) (9/10) Edmond O'Brien directing himself as a cop going sour 22 March 2018

This is actually a very upsetting film, as the vile brutality and vicious corruption of Edmond O'Brien is difficult to associate with such a brilliant actor. It's a sinister drama of police corruption that hardly could be more dark and depressive. The fall of the 291


protagonist into constantly deeper darkness and hopelessness of moral bankruptcy is almost unbearable. Still, there are some brighter spots. Carolyn Jones as a bar blonde at hand for comfort when the abyss gapes open is the one element of comedy in the film, and that whole spaghetti scene is paramount and the best of the film. There are some other scenes approaching it, like when he goes berserk at a public bath being both chased and chasing his own desperate destiny, and of course it can only end one way. It's one of the darkest noirs ever, but pay special attention to Emile Meyer as Captain Gunnarson. You'll never again see a cop like that. He actually runs the show and knows from the beginning the full extent of the troubles mounting and is the perfect realist to handle them. It's a great film worth watching to the end - if you can stand it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047479/?ref_=ur_urv Down Three Dark Streets (1954) (9/10) Broderick Crawford as a low profile FBI detective doing his job 1 June 2018

For once, Broderick Crawford is not overacting, but actually falls well in line with the character of this almost neo-realistic documentary quality of an FBI-investigation into a seemingly hopeless tangle of murder cases: the one FBI-agent who was on the brink of solving one of his three cases gets murdered, leaving all three cases hopelessly jammed without clues. His chief Broderick Crawford takes over the job in a ruotine matter-of-fact manner, and this is actually the great asset of the film, which is more than enough convincing all the way. There are a number of ladies involved, but the starkest impression is made by Marisa Pavan as Julie Angelino, the only girl in the film to get manhandled. She made a similar unforgettable part against Tony Curtis in "The Midnight Story", also as an Italian vulnerable girl, and both performances lift their films to a higher level. Among the other girls are Martha Hyer, who more often than not played fatal blondes and did it well, and she makes her mark also here. But the best actress is Ruth Roman as Kate Martell, who makes the whole film. It pays to be observant in every scene she is in, for her crisis situation, which constantly is developing, is the main story of the film, and it is all written in her face all the way through. I can't remember having seen her in any other film. This is a great underrated noir of the highest quality but technically rather humble in its way of presenting itself, which only makes it the more interesting. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046928/ Pushover (1954)

292


(9/10) Policemen as peeping Toms getting into trouble with Kim Novak 14 June 2018

Fred MacMurray has an extraordinary way of always appearing stupidly out of place and rather awkward, no matter what he does, like almost a permanent loser, maybe because that's the kind of characters he was best at, like in "Double Indemnity". This is the same story but on a smaller scale, and the lady here is different, Kim Novak in her first appearance, and she makes the film. This is like an introduction and rehearsal for "Vertigo", but this is black and white, and there is some real shooting taking place, which doesn't stop at one murder. The main trouble with the film is that it's impossible to understand how Kim Novak can love Fred. Your bets will rather pile up with Plilip Carey as a much more convincing character - Fred is simply hopeless and almost cooked from the beginning. The other lady Dorothy Malone imports some refreshment by her straight personality, and you follow all her scenes with almost keener interest than Kim Novak's , since Dorothy's character is less predictable, and she ultimately does determine the course of the drama. It's not a bad film, but Fred MacMurray will never become a favourite actor with anyone but rather constantly remain something of a bad joke of a stolid actor. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047377/?ref_=ur_urv Green Fire (1954) (8/10) Hard times in Colombia in collapsing emerald mines and a coffee farm at risk 14 July 2018

This seemed like a very ordinary adventure entertainment out in the jungles of South America about coffee and emeralds, but it turned out better than expected, mainly because of superb acting by Stewart Granger and Paul Douglas. The best scenes are when they are drunk together. It's a good story which provokes some afterthought and could teach anyone a thing or two, and there is an amounting turn of action towards the end when the bandit league really do their best to turn everything to the worst. Another asset of the film is Miklos Rosza's music - it could turn any film into a maze of magic. The colour is also splendid, and as an entertainment it is definitely first class, not only because Grace Kelly is into it as well, but firstly because of the exoticism and excellence of the story of how two good-fornothings finally get together in the end for something good. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047050/?ref_=ur_urv Night People (1954) (9/10)

293


Gregory Peck having a hard time with foul play diplomacy in Berlin 25 August 2018

Nunnally Johnson at his best as both the script writer, producer and director here, with also Gregory Peck at his best as a very annoying colonel trying to resolve an impossible diplomatic puzzle and doing his best to make everyone his enemies, but ultimately doing the right thing, although it involves some traumatic settlements. Broderick Crawford as the stupid bullying American barging in and doing all he can to sabotage the proceedings by making a nuisance of himself eventually catches on and goes though an interesting character development. Anita Bjรถrk is the blonde agent lady of mystery, whom Gregory evidently has had a relationship with, which she still hopes is going on, while his responsibility calls for higher issues. Rita Gam finally is the perfect secretary who evidently knows more than she shows, which is wiser. The story has been criticised, but it's a very good Nunnally script giving a very comprehensive view and insight into the mentality and challenge of the cold war with its twisted and almost adverse diplomacy. Almost everything takes place indoors, mainly in a hospital, and the film has a long and difficult start before lifting. Perhaps the best scene is the fantastic counterpoint inside view of the Katakomb restaurant with its baroque entertainment as a contrast to the seriousness of the dealings. It's Gregory Peck's film above all, who succeeds in making an impossible tangle of criminal diplomacy come out with correctness. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047279/?ref_=tt_urv Crest of the Wave (1954) (Seagulls over Sorrento) (10/10) Backfiring torpedoes 29 October 2018

How can a torpedo be so exciting? It's a dead thing, and still it keeps the whole film constantly growing in suspense and expectation, and whatever you expect, you will not be disappointed. Gene Kelly makes a very unusual role for a change, no dancing and singing here but only totally matter-of-fact science and technical expertise. They are testing torpedos on a remote base laboratory on an island outside Scotland, and the film begins with a disastrous failure with an irreplaceable casualty, the expert who finished the job and made the new torpedo technically perfect, and then something went wrong, and everything exploded. The expert in charge survived but not for long and took his possible secrets with him. In his place Gene Kelly is procured. It's a chamber drama only beteen men, but it never gets claustrophobic although they are strictly confined. Instead a very special drama keeps developing concerning the topredo and its increasing problem complex. The Boulting brothers only made extremely interesting films for their concentration on human factors and human imperfections, and although highly specialised and restricted to science and 294


technics, this is no exception. The húman factor takes over the show with a vengeance. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046877/?ref_=ur_urv The House of Ricordi (1954) (10/10)

A colourful opera cavalcade through the 19th century 7 February 2019

This is a film for opera lovers but for such an indispensable gem. It tells the story of the music publishing house of Ricordi through three generations, from 1807 and Napoleonic times to Puccini’s ’La Bohème’. They are all there – Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini and even Zandonai, with their lovers and successes and crises and tragedies – it’s a gefundenes Fressen for any lover of any opera, while on the other hand people not familiar with the world of opera will hardly get much out of it, in spite of the great scenography, the marvellous colours, the many dramatic scenes and the splendid ladies. This is a sequel to the great opera film ”Puccini” the year before, and the same Puccini actor is Puccini here, and also his wife Elvira (Marta Toren) is here Rossini’s mistress Isabella. There are quite a few very memorable scenes here. Focus is on major turning points in the lives of the different composers. Rossini comes first with the hilarious account of how his ”Barber of Seville” first was a tremendous failure but turned to the greatest success of the century. Marcello Mastroianni is not quite the type for Gaetano Donizetti, but nevertheless there are some marvellous scenes with his ”Elixir of Love”. Vincenzo Bellini (Maurice Ronet) is given a very traumatic and melodramatic death scene, and then there is Verdi, caught up in the struggle for Italy’s independence, but the following chapter of his is more interesting. After ’Aida’ and his Requiem he decided never to compose anything again, he was sick and tired of the struggle and rivalry with Wagner, and he tried to retire completely, but was nevertheless coaxed back to write another opera or two in his old age, ’Otello’ being the first, and its final scene is included. Then there is Puccini who finds a real Mimi in Paris, and there is another gripping death scene. On the whole, this is great music film focused on Italian opera and definitely one of the best. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046833/ Phffft! (1954) (8/10) The case of Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon saved by a whoooshing bed. 4 March 2019

295


Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon proved such an irresistible couple in "Gladys Glover", that another film with them was made the same year. It has its hilarious moments of great fun, especially their first restaurant scene after the divorce, but it lacks the sparkling originality of "Gladys Glover". Kim Novak compensates somewhat for what you lack, her contribution is vital, but on the whole it's no more than a rather casual and superficial comedy, worth seeing of course most of all for Judy Holliday, but the script is not enough to satisfy the interest of the audience the whole way. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047349/?ref_=ur_urv La donna del fiume (1954) 9/10 Sophia Loren in the clutches of destiny 2 March 2019

In this film Sophia Loren was still very young and outrageously sensual, and no role could have been more suitable for her at that age than this one, where she has the opportunity to act out all her assets, both sensual, dramatic, gripping and tragic - her maturity is striking. It begins as a trivial comedy, she works in a fishing factory on the east coast, while most men are after her, especially the adventurous smuggler Gino, who proves risky. She resists him as long as possible, but the way he acts and uses force makes it impossible for her not to get caught in a trap of destiny. The story unfolds in the great Italian neo-realistic fashion, the story could have been a subject for Vittorio de Sica or Visconti, the atmosphere is the same as in "Bicycle Thieves" and other down to earth Italian dramas at the time, and although you are sceptical at first, the drama will more and more overwhelm you. A policeman, who truly loves her, tries to save her, but instead he unintentionally only makes matters worse, and ultimately you will understand why she has to prefer the criminal to him. But the greatest asset of the film is perhaps the location, the genuine environment among the fishermen on the east coast living in very basic conditions, their small Sunday pleasures at the dancing party, and the wonderful local people - this should actually be a classic https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048005/?ref_=ur_urv Pellegrini d’amore (1954) (9/10) An American and German reviving war memories in Italy with Sophia Loren 2 March 2019

The name of Sophia Loren in the cast is enough for you to know for certain that the film is worth watching. Here she is for a change in a hilarious comedy written in a

296


vein of wild good humour by Andrea Forzano, who also dirtects the film. Madame Dalia and her equally elderly accomplice Constantin have rented a villa on the sea to run a clandestine gambling club, but the police are after them. There is a great conference event in town for "The Pilgrims of Love" for an annual festival, and some members are awarded some chalices of honour, a Japanese, a German and an American. After the occasion, the American and German find themselves in the same coach heading for the same place. It so happens, that they both served in the war and stayed at the same place, which they now have a rare chance of revisiting after seven years. They lived in the same room but in different periods, but they were both enamoured with a beautiful picture on the wall named 'Giulietta', and although none of them ever saw her in reality, they have both dreamed of her ever since. The house happens to be the gambling den of Madame Dalia, and she sees an opportunity. She pretends this Giulietta was her niece and sends her partner Constantin to town to fetch someone like her. That's where Sophia Loren enters the picture. She is a fresh vulgar girl from Rome who happens to know some French. When she appears live in the villa, both the German Sigmund and the American Bill see the dream of their lives come true, and both want to marry her. Naturally there are fights between them, which complicates matters. That is how it begins. Without being mean, the film makes hilarious fun of the German and the American, Bill buys her a horse, which bolts, and Sigmund takes her out on a fishing ordeal, which makes her seasick and gives her a tremendous cold. There are other complications as well. The tempo and conversation is very fast all through the film, things are happening all the time, but if you can follow the havoc and know some Italian, the film will give you enormous pleasure, especially by the acting of Sophia Loren, which always is superb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046174/?ref_=ur_urv Secret of the Incas (1954) (10/10) Dashing and outrageous adventurers in Peru being taught a lesson 23 March 2019

Charlton Heston as a young macho adventurer in Peru thinking only of money is outrageously insolent all the way, but as he gets going on his final adventure with a Romanian refugee escaping through the jungles of Peru to Macchu Picchu there is an interesting development in a most unpredictable direction. Thomas Mitchell is the frustrated old partner who wants his share of the loot at any price and has to ultimately pay for it, while Robert Young as a decent and orderly archaeologist finds himself without any reward for all his honesty. But the vital part of the acting is from totally different persons. The miraculous turn of the film is from the main characters leading the action to the

297


taking over of the film by the Peruvians, local Indians, headed by the almost unearthly character of Yuma Sumac, singing the old Inca to life with the most unique voice in the world, embracing four octaves. Just her singing is the highlight of the film, she introduces it with her song, and she gives two further performances, all for the god of the Incas. There are many Indians, all fantastically dressed in local costumes, which makes this film as unique as Yuma Sumac. Because of the unexpected turn of events Charlton Heston is developed into a different character, and that change is psychologically very interesting and provides an explanation and entry to his later more demanding characters. The film is a wonder, and you will never forget it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047464/ Pane, amore e gelosia (1954) (10/10) Further adventures of the Maresciallo and the Bersagliera 23 April 2019

In the second part of this trilogy of love intrigues and complications in the Abruzzi in a small village, things turn into a more serious direction and almost into a noir in the best Italian neorealistic style, as la Bersagliera becomes the victim of slander and village gossip, which turns her sheepish cavalier away from her, while at the same time the Maresciallo finds his inamoration with the local midwife impossible, as he can't marry her, since it's against regulations for a Maresciallo to marry someone with an illegitimate child. On top of this, the child's father turns up and makes his claims. La Bersagliera tries to break away from all these complications, but an eartquake turns everything upside down. Nevertheless, the Maresciallo finds himself saved by the discovery of a new attractive lady - without illegitimate children. It is not as good as the first part but rather more dramatic and definitely on the same level, so it deserves no less praise than the first, and they definitely stick together and should be seen in sequence. The second part finishes the Abruzzi story, but still there is a third part. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047327/?ref_=ur_urv Boris Godunov (1954) (10/10) The greatest of Russian operas made into as impressing a film as "Ivan the Terrible" 29 May 2019

This was the first of the great Russian filmed operas of the 50s, and it is of the greatest Russian opera of all. It has five acts, but it was successfully compressed into 100 minutes with nothing missing of anything vital. It also ends correctly with the

298


revolution scene - when Rimsky-Korsakov edited the opera after Musorgsky's death, he made Boris' death scene the end of the opera. Although the film is old, it is a startling performance on all accounts, Pirogov makes a very convincing Boris with his nightmares and paranoic traumas, and Georgi Nelepp is dashing enough as the false Dimitri - all other characters are excellent as well, especially the peasants. It's the music that makes the opera, amazing from begining to end, with a never ending flow of memorable melodies, great dramatic scenes and spectacular settings reminding of Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible" - there are definite influences from there. But the most amazing thing is, that this grand epic opera film was directed by a woman, Vera Stroyeva, and the result is absolutely on the same level as Roman Tikhomirov's great opera films - that started five years after Vera. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052642/ Highway Dragnet (1954) (10/10) The usual manhunt for the wrong man, but with some efficiency 3 June 2019

I was surprised at the splendour of the intrigue in this film, constantly going more wrong but with a vengeance for the better. You are in for many surprises here. It's like a road movie, but it's a thriller of life and death, and it's the first major breakthrough in the cinema for Roger Corman, who wrote the brilliant script. Richard Conte is more than ever to his advantage in a role that suits him perfectly, and Joan Bennett as the woman in charge makes an unusual wrong kind of character for a change. She is expert at playing women with some advanced experience, but this one has had a bit too much of it with a suicide for a deceased husband. There is no place for leniency or sentimentality in this film, but everyone plays it rough, without anyone ever saying "please" for any effort at some courtesy. The police chief is a Raymond Massey kind of imposing authority, but he eventually turns humanly understanding. It's a great film on a small scale, and a brilliant start for Roger Corman. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047087/ Sabrina (1954) (10/10) Surprises galore in one of the most delightful comedies ever made 3 June 2019

There are many surprises in this thoroughly enjoyable and most original tale of a strange kind of rivalry between two brothers of diametrically opposite characters about the 22 year old daughter of their family chauffeur. This must be one of Billy Wilder's very best films, although he usually only made excellent ones, but in this one every single sequence is enjoyable, for the overwhelming charm of the innocence

299


of Audrey Hepburn learning some lessons, the surprisingly good acting by Humphrey Bogart in a very different role from his usual ones and the dashing impertinence of William Holden - Billy Wilder gets the best out of all three. .Let's not forget John Williams as the concerned father. There is much of Ernst Lubitsch here, Billy Wilder's master, using his master's knowledge and way of things to eloquent advantage. Already in Audrey Hepburn's first film everything was perfect, but this is on exactly the same supreme level. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047437/ The Barefoot Contessa (1954) (10/10) Great tragedy on higher levels with brilliant dialog all through 2 August 2019

The dominating element of this singularly out-of-the-ordinary film is a deep melancholy mood, that is set right from the start with the leading character's funeral, at which all that had anything to do with her career stand getting wet in a rain, that has been going on for weeks. It is a tragedy, but no one can suspect it from the beginning, as it starts as a towering success story about a career in Hollywood, a poor girl in the slums of Madrid being discovered by Humphrey Bogart, Edmond O'Brien and an intolerable Wall Street tycoon, who will not be the first one to misuse his billions to try to destroy her. From the begiinning she has a mind of her own, and everyone who tries to rule her will find it impossible to command her - she cannot be bought. There is great symbolism in the issue of her shoes all through the film, like a red thread, constantly returning to her naked feet, as she was born and bred walking barefooot in the mud of the slums and never could do without it. Even her statue in the end shows her naked foot. Ava Gardner is the star, of course, she was never more beautiful, and considerable effort apparently was spent on her marvellous clothes - I don't think any Hollywood star in in any film was more exquisitely dressed, consistently, than Ava in this film. Her poise adds to her stature, and her character is simply awesome. Humphrey Bogart is her main co-player, the only man who doesn't mistreat her, while the others, Edmond O'Brien, Marius Goring and Rossano Brazzi, just can't help their own characters and how they were made. Rossano Brazzi's character is the most difficult to understand, but considering the background of a top Italian aristocrat with a castle in Rapallo and they ways of his 400 year old noble family, you must accept even his unacceptability. Edmond O'Brien is brilliant as usual but the most neutral of all, and he has his great moment when he sides with Marius Goring against his slavery, but he ebbs out and has no say in the end, while the fathomless endless tragic melancholy remains for an uneffaceable final impression. Could it have ended otherwise? Like in so many films, 300


like also in reality, people talk too little with each other, communication is missing where it would have been most vital, and here it could have helped a lot. Brazzi should have told his secret from the start, and Ava should have discussed her plans with him. Instead, like in so many matrimonies, the married couple left the most important things unsaid. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046754/ Witness to Murder (1954) (10/10) A murderer too intelligent for his own good and an unwilling witness to expose him 5 September 2019

There are many flaws in this plot and script, and the worst strikes you from the beginning, as George Sanders murders his victim without closing the curtains, so that anyone in the opposite house can see it, which Barbara Stanwyck does and gets upset, spreading her upset to the police who can't believe her since no dead body can be found, and eventually even causing panic in the murderer. What makes this film interesting and an ace of thrillers is the superb acting by all three and the very interesting cinematography, the artistry of which is underlined by the very efficient music. George Sanders had a knack for making advanced villains overwhelmingly credible, and Barbara Stanwyck was never better, here playing a woman falling a victim to her lack of credibility. Gary Merrill also always makes good performances, and here he is unusually sympathetic and understanding for a police. This was in the Hitchcock genre, and he must have seen it and got a lot of ideas from it, as you almost recognize scenes from "Vertigo", "North by Northwest", "Rear Window" and others - there are even reminiscences here of "The Snake Pit" and Orson Welles' "The Process" with its nightmare settings - possibly inspired from here. It is Barbara Stanwyck's film, her terror, anguish and agony cannot leave anyone untouched, and you will certainly sometime return to this film again. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047679/?ref_=tt_urv The High and the Mighty (1954) (9/10) "The only guy who had the guts never to commit suicide." 30 September 2019

Without the music this film would have been a terrible bore going on forever and never ending in its sharing the lives of especially female hysterical passengers, but the music lifts it up from the beginning and saves it with eloquence, and if you wait long enough you will be rewarded also on the action and drama front. The most interesting drama is between the two leading pilots, John Wayne and Robert Stack, John Wayne being an experienced flyer having survived some total disasters, and

301


Robert Stack learning the hard way. The film enters the lives of almost all the passengers, among whom the most interesting one is the drunk professor (David Brian) who brings on an important argument about the pollution of the Pacific by American bomb scientists. There is Robert Newton with som formidable eloquence and several other characters, whose fates you get to know, while you soon tire of all the emotional female outbreaks, which only make matters worse. The end of the film is a cliffhanger - will they make it or will they not? - and it comes almost to a fierce settlement between the two leading flyers. It's in techincolour so very handosmely done but outstretched to an unnecessary maximum - while you'll never forget Dimitri Tiomkin's music. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047086/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Divided Heart (1954) (9/10) Interesting insight into the ethnic problem after the war of tens of thousands of dislocated children and their lost parents. 14 Decvember 2019

This is a heart-rending story illustrating the overwhelming problem after the war of dislocated persons, in this case children. The film is almost documentary in character, going into the fates of two mothers claiming the same child, the real mother losing her boy because of the war, and a German childless mother adopting him after the war and bringing him up as a German. Which mother should have the child? Why not let the child decide himself, but here is the divided heart. He wants to stick with one and still not do without the other. Alexander Knox is the one among the three judges who advocates the child's right to decide his own future, while the arguments of the other two American judges are a little difficult to understand. Anyway, it's a fascinating story in its close adherence to reality, and Yvonne Mitchell as the Slovenian mother (speaking fluently Slovenian) makes a lasting impression. She is willing to give up her child for the child's own sake, while the German adoptive mother has nothing to argue with except her feelings. It's a very difficult case and dilemma, and it should maybe be taken for certain, that the boy, in the unique position of having two mothers, would do his best to keep them both. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046915/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Black Tuesday (1954) (9/10) Edward G. Robinson and Peter Graves going to extremes to evade the electric chair 6 February 2020

302


A grim drama consistently going from bad to worse the whole way to the end, but very efficiently told and acted, and Edward G. Robinson makes one of his most interesting characters as the angry gangster who only knows one way of life which is the worst without any room for any human feelings at all. The priest character (Milburn Stone) is very interesting in this context, while Peter Graves as the second worst gangster ultimately takes matters in his own hands and proves himself a hero after all although in a negative way. It's a very efficient getaway and hostage drama which will keep you biting your nails all the way, although you know it can only end in one way, no matter how perfectly they arranged their escape and almost managed it in spite of the inevitable fact in these operations, that something always must go wrong. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046790/ Forbidden Cargo (1954) (9/10) Going fishing in the Mediterranean for drugs 6 February 2020

It doesn't give much indication in the beginning of what is to be, but after the first smuggling incident with the bird woman, an interesting drama starts to build up. Nigel Patrick is the elegant investigator, who soon finds himself up against a professional team of gangsters, where Theodore Bikel has a key role, first appearing as a charming musician with his honeyed voice. No one can suspect anything about what this intriguing character actually is working with, while Jack Warner on his way to alcoholism alarmingly reacts against him from the start, which should raise the suspicion that he feels stuck in a racket that he cannot handle. It is difficult to suspect his sister Elizabeth Sellers of having any part of it, and she actually ultimately saves or tries to save the situation. There are some impressing diving sequences as well, but the main thing is the very intelligent plot and story. It's a great and efficient criminal drama of drug traffic in the early 50s and certainly much ahead of its time. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046992/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Hell’s Half Acre (1954) (8/10) A noir in Hawaii as an interesting experiment 18 Fwbruary 2020

The story is interesting. After a honeymoon of three days Wendell Corey has to break up to serve in the war and happens to Pearl Harbour, where he is almost killed but not quite, but he survives with his face damaged for life. He gets stuck on Hawaii and tries to make a life of his own there in a casbah-like nest of murky 303


activitieds, where he gets mixed up with local rackets but also makes some local career as a singing poet. His wife back home has received news that he is reported missiing, supposed dead, in which assumed fact she lives on for years, until she hears a song of his and recognizes his words on a modern record. She goes to Hawaii to search for him while he gets deeper involved with murders and rackets and refuses to acknowledge her or his life before the war. Of course there are further complications. Wendell Corey was never a favourite actor of mine, he was almost a disappointment to me in every film I saw him in for hisstiffness and lack of expression, but this film is saved by the story. The other actors are rather mediocre as well, but fortunately there is Elsa Lanchester as a helpful taxi driver, who actually contributes in saving the film. The local touch is also excellent, with sweet ukuleles singing and swinging all over the place and everywhere you go, and the environment is lovely and enchanting, of course. Only Wendell Corey is not, and he is only saved by the sad story of his fate. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047074/ The Black Rider (1954) (7/10) Dark smuggling business going on in a small town on the east coast. 28 March 2020

A trifle of a film but not without interesting deserts. The story is about smuggling, but no one has any idea of what is being smuggled or by whom and for what, while gradually Lionel Jeffries (later known from many Peter Sellers comedies) emerges as the leading villain. It is an idyllic and cozy film from a small town and its quiet life, while the plot gradually emerges as more and more intriguing in assuming impressive dimensions. It is great entertainment with a finale of some suspense, but it's certainly not a great film, but it will do for a change, if you need someting totally different. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046788/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955) (9/10) Life and death of Davy Crockett in his own words in all sincerity This was the classic Davy Crockett film by Walt Disney, an astonishing world success at the time, almost creating a cult lasting until the 60s, with an overwhelmingly realistic Alamo finale (end of siege today March 6th 1836 with all heroes fallen), inspired the mammoth "Alamo" film 5 years later with a bleak John Wayne in comparison with Fess Parker, while the great performance of that film was Richard Widmark as Colonel Jim Bowie. The Disney production was above all extremely well 304


and carefully written originally for television, with such a success that is was turned into a major film, and Fess Parker's impersonation of the very simple and common but totally straight-forward frontier man is perfectly convincing, even and especially his appearances in congress. The film is wonderfully sincere in its simplicity, and you never forget the few but intimate family scenes. Buddy Ebsen as George Russell makes a perfect buddy all the way through, and Basil Ruysdael is a formidable Andy Jackson. There are also some great hard fighting fisticuff style, both with Indians and more blatant crooks, the Bigfoot scoundrel being perfect as a flamboyant villain. The music adds to the charm of the sincerity of the film, it's only one tune all along, with the exception of the more lyrical, intimate and unforgettable "Farewell to the Mountains" in the Alamo pause of fighting; but at one time the Davy Crockett song even masquerades in an arrangement for string quartet. In its simple adventure genre, it remains as a film a timeless classic, this is great film story telling, offering plenty of after-thought and all true, which it will always be a pleasure to return to in one decade after another... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047977/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Storm Over the Nile (1955) The Laurence Harvey version of 'The Four Feathers' is neither the worst nor the best but still excellent. (9/10) 21 July 2017

It's impossible to make a bad film out of this story, and that is one of the reasons it has been filmed so many times. Since each version is good in its own way, it's also interesting to compare them with each other. The 1939 version is still the most spectacular and impressing but also the most superficial. The Beau Bridges version as Harry Fasversham is the weakest one, but for Robert Powell as Jack Durrance, who is always the most interesting character, and all depends on how he is acted. In this version Durrance is played by Laurence Harvey, who is always unmatchable. He is therefore the main attraction here, and he certainly makes the whole film interesting, no matter what advantages to it you find in the other versions. Here you also find a deeper pathos than in the other versions, and the scenery from the Nile transcends all the others. The most interesting detail is the conscience issue. Harry Faversham turns a conscientious objector (20 years before the first world war) and gets labelled as a coward by his soldier friends. He feels they are right in their way and that he has to prove them wrong, whereupon he sets out on the most impossible thinkable enterprise, masking himself as a mute Arab slave to reach his friends in the Sudan to save their lives from certain death when necessary. But he can't save Durrance from his blindness. His only friend at home, Dr. Sutton (Geoffrey Keen) plays an important role here and makes a memorable character. All the finest and most sensitive scenes are with him and Laurence Harvey. This version also gives the finest music of the four, by Benjamin Frankel. Also Christopher Lee has a small part, and James Robertson Justice adds to the flamboyance.

305


It's a remake of the 1939 version but better, but the best version is the so far latest one: the Shekhar Kapur version of 2002 with Heath Ledger, and Wes Bentley as Jack Durrance. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048662/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Night of the Hunter (1955) (10/10) Charles Laughton's only film a horror story about a pastor on a murder spree of mothers and children. 30 May 2017

Charles Laughton's only film is on the level with all his very memorable performances in various classics as anything from Henry VIII, Rembrandt and Nero to the hunchback of Notre Dame and a busker of London. 'The Night of the Hunter' is about a sanctimonious preacher (Robert Mitchum) who plays with knives and kills wives and other innocents. His character of extreme double standards is a devastating blow to religiousness. He gets the scent of $10,000 hidden by an executed cellmate (Peter Graves as a young man and the father of two small children with gorgeous Shelley Winters for their mother) and so beleaguers and weds the mother with disastrous consequences for her, whereupon the children run away to Lillian Gish. That's part of the story. The amazing thing about the film is the highly qualified synchronization of the direction (Laughton), the photography (Stanley Cortez at his best) and the music (Walter Schumann). They worked together exchanging ideas and sentiments, and the result is one of the most magic films ever made. The photography of Cortez, who also worked with Orson Welkles, Fritz Lang and many others, is amazing throughout, especially since most of it is nocturnal. In a color film the effects would not have been as expressive and spellbinding. Another vital point is the masterful psychology. Laughton handles his actors with expert mastership and brings out the best of them, especially the children. Billy Chapin as John is especially noteworthy with his eyes expressing more than any dialogue. No director I know has managed to catch the soul language of the eyes better than Laughton, and he was a master actor with his eyes himself. The fantastic photography makes it vital though to watch it in as high quality as possibly, not to miss perhaps the most important element of the film. Blue Ray is recommended, if possible. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048424/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Prisoner (1955) (8/10)

306


Play loosely based on the fake trial of Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary in 1948 after brainwash. 16 September 2014

Interesting play by Bridget Boland loosely based on the notorious fake trial of Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary after a month of brainwashing by the communists in 1948. Alec Guinness was himself a catholic and is really living out his catholicism in this great performance of the live dissection of a catholic priest, extremely actual in today's situation with the church immersed in scandals of pedophilia. Bridget Boland makes a very different story from the Mindszenty drama, making the interrogator (Jack Hawkins) an equal to the Cardinal as opponent and prosecutor and seems to be winning but actually loses in the end against the honesty of the Cardinal realizing his own futility, while the prosecutor-interrogator as a victor is the real loser and takes the consequences. Fascinating drama, which should be returned to again and again. In reality, Cardinal Mindszenty's brainwash process only lasted for less than a month and was chiefly conducted by the use of drugs and physical exhaustion. The only parallel torture that Alec Guinness is exposed to is forced insomnia. He is imprisoned for longer than three months with only private talks with the interrogator as a method and finally released, when the "state" thinks it has won by ruining his reputation and exposing him as a fraud, while Cardinal Mindszenty was sentenced for life. The film was made in 1955, the year after saw the Hungarian revolt, and Cardinal Mindszenty was then set free and lived a long life, even writing books and his memoirs. He is still one of the most important icons of Hungary and will remain so. His shrine is at the ancient basilica of Esztergom north of Budapest, a very beautiful place by the Danube. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048512/?ref_=nv_sr_3 A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) (10/10) A boy's imagination gets a fortuitous push by a whim of reality, turning tears into smiles all over... I saw this in Britain (Blackpool of all places) in black-and-white on a disturbed television in 1963, but I could never forget the film. 50 years later I can see it again on the computer, but !N COLOUR! which was sensational, and the magic of the very simple and ordinary story appeared in full splendor. This is a fascinating and successful effort to catch the magic of life at the bottom, it's a poor family that can't afford anything, not even a cracked wedding ring, and still a small boy's sense of magic, helped on by an old Jewish tailor of singular psychological insight, brings this family to a kind of realization of all their dreams – except one. It's simply a presentation of how magic can work on even the most basic levels. To this comes the overwhelming charm of the street life of East End with a picturesque gallery of originals without end, so you could easily see this film many times and each time find new treasures; and the great acting of all the protagonists, Diana Dors, 'Britain's only blonde bomb-shell' stealing every scene she appears in, and Celia Johnson good as always, while the two characters you will remember with the greatest pleasure undoubtedly will be David Kossoff as Mr Kandinsky the old tailor, and the boy Joe, played by Jonathan Ashmore – I've never seen him again. Primo Camera as the

307


monstrous Python and Danny Green as Bully Bason add another kind of charm and spice to the stew and enrich the colorful gallery with burlesque and sometimes awesome brutality. Finally poetry is added to it by the endearing music of Benjamin Frankel, veiling it all in lovability. This was Carol Reed's first color film and will remain a priceless gem of poetry-in-the-gutter for all times. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048250/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) (10/10) Frank Sinatra in his best performance in one of Otto Preminger's many masterpieces. 13 December 2015

I haven't seen this film since 1971, but then it made e such an impression, that it stuck for life, and I felt no need to see it again, as the memory of it was sharp enough. Just for curiosity, I decided to renew its acquaintance after 44 years just to see what would happen, – and the impact was repeated and as good as new. This is probably the best junkie film ever made, in its naturalistic and actually horrific realism, with Frank Sinatra (100 years just the other day) in his best performance in the lead as the junkie with a crippled wife in a wheel-chair (Eleanor Parker, splendid acting on her part too,) and Kim Novak as the saving angel – it stands clear from the beginning that only she can save him, and she does, in also one of her best performances, actually better than in "Vertigo". The triumph however is the direction combined with the music by Elmer Bernstein. It's asphalt jungle music all the way, hard and merciless in its ruthlessly importuning rough disharmonics and nightmare style (with a few exceptions for a change), and Sinatra is even convincing as a failed drummer. Otto Preminger stands for the direction, one of many original films of his, and they are many, but this black-and-white social documentary naturalistic gutter nightmare is perhaps the one most sticking out – you recognize much of this half slum humdrum environment as he returns to it in "Porgy and Bess" three years later. In brief, it's a triumph of a film, completely naked in shocking social realism with as perfectly convincing and natural performances as in any Italian neo-realistic masterpiece. It was a perfectly enjoyable nightmare to see it again after 44 years to observe it had lost nothing of its timeless actuality – this could happen to you. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048347/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Not as a Stranger (1955) (8/10) Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra and Olivia De Havilland in the medical profession. 20 April 2015

Like all Stanley Kramer's films, it is of lasting interest for any generation, in this case the story of a perfect doctor who by his sheer perfection finds himself totally imperfect. It's an interesting study in the limitations of human nature, no matter how accomplished and perfect it is, but the more brilliant the man, the more likely he is to 308


fall, and the weaker he will prove. This tendency is marked already in the beginning of the film with the introductory episode of the alcoholic father, which sets the theme – Robert Mitchum can't cope with this case of extreme human sensitivity, he just isn't human enough, and this flaw will persecute him throughout his career to ultimately hound him down, when he at last has to realize that even he can make mistakes, and his mistake is the worst and most fatal of all, of not quite being human. The acting is splendid throughout, especially Frank Sinatra as his best friend, who from the beginning sees Robert Mitchum's foibles but only becomes the more loyal for that – he is less brilliant of the two, but by being more human, he is actually a better doctor. Olivia De Havilland plays a part almost typical of her, as the sore tried and patient wife, who bears it all with pain but only grows a warmer heart in the process, while Gloria Grahame as always is superb as the opposite. Broderick Crawford is impressing as the experienced mentor who has a clear view of both human nature and the medical profession and spots the flaws of both Sinatra and Mitchum from the beginning – to help them right. In brief, it's a wonderful and almost documentary melodrama of the pitfalls of the medical profession, which especially medical students will find profoundly interesting and even educating. Add to this the always interestingly haunting music by George Antheil, and you have magic all the way. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048432/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Portrait of Alison (1955) (9/10) A fishy plot of terrible deaths and mysterious girls getting in the hands of the wrong man... 26 May 2017

Francis Durbridge shines through with his special knack for women mysteries and their magic presence for being absent, you are reminded both of the Paul Temple series and "Melissa" and other spellbinding thrillers with mystical ladies, and here you have two of them murdered while one of them shows up not being murdered at all. The intrigue is spun around a portrait, a weird old man commissions Robert Beatty, a poor painter and brother of the first casualty of the racket, to paint his lost daughter from a picture of her, which task gets him into thorough trouble, especially since one of his earlier models is found murdered in his flat. It's not a bad film although somewhat superficial, of such an intrigue Hitchcock would have brought out a masterpiece, the action is a bit thick as too many things are happening at the same time and too many threads are being woven together in some confusion, as there is another casualty of a man jumping out of a window and lots of fisticuffs which at least twice completely demolishes the painter's entire flat – there is not much space to fight, but they do it the more thoroughly. In brief, a very entertaining thriller with some magic in it, but you would have

309


preferred the first girl (Josephine Griffin) to Terry Moore, but that's a matter of personal taste.. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048507/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_61 Kiss Me Deadly (1955) (10/10) "Stay away from the window. Someone might blow you a kiss." 9 March 2015

The ultimate noir that has got everything – and wasn't even intended to be anything special. There are no great stars in it, and yet the acting transcends most contemporary star movies. Yet the prize goes to Marion Carr as the girl Friday. She didn't make many pictures, but her performance here secured her a place in film history, a simple girl with the wrong connections who constantly gets more entangled in her own fate as a hopeless victim of circumstances and her own desperate efforts to get to the top of her troubles, which only maximizes them, in a complex character of some kind of mixture between Judy Holliday and Kim Novak in "Vertigo". A special tribute goes for the music with its many variations, from Nat King Cole to Schubert, Brahms and Chopin, and a splendid blues singer (Mady Comfort) on top of it. The script and dialogue is virtuoso all the way, the action serves you constant refreshing surprises, and every character is clearcut and convincing, especially the girls. The hard–boiled story is intermixed with poetry, Italian opera and tragedy, Nick Dennis stands for the tragic part in shockingly upsetting injustice, and it all mounts up to the great mystery of 'the great what's–it' in a grand finale, greater than any opera. In brief, this is a noir for all times and so surprisingly modern at the same time, that it has the strange ability of getting better with age and each time you see it, which reveals new fascinating details of it to remember. A full score of 10 was seldom more obvious. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048261/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) (10/10) Dirk Bogarde at the mercy of two women – he can't kill them all Splendid acting all the way in this dark play of intrigue treating you with some very spectacular surprises. This lurid and scheming sly character of a reckless and shameless opportunist fits Dirk Bogarde's prying kind of acting perfectly, and I have never seen him better, but the prize goes to Margaret Lockwood – it's impossible to start with to recognize her as Margaret Lockwood. She is his perfect match and proves quite capable of handling this intelligent and calculating psychopath of a human failure as no one else. Kay Walsh, on the other hand, takes him on differently with kindness and sympathy but only to prove the hardest and cleverest woman of them all – their final volcano eruption of a quarrel makes the film glow of glory like an overwhelming theatre performance. It's an amazing story and film of amazing

310


characters, each one shining in her own virtuoso performance, and even Kathleen Harrison adds to it with her very own idiosyncrasy of adorable honesty and simplicity. It's a real treat of a film for the noir lovers, especially if they know how to enjoy tense chamber drama of passion, crime and deceit like a best one of Hitchcock's, and it will even be well worth seeing a film like this occasionally again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050233/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Simba (1955) (9/10) Fascinating drama of the Mau-Mau in Kenya in the early 50s 8 April 2017

It pinpoints all the problems of colonialism, how it has to turn the natives against the intruding masters, while they have their defense as well – they do bring help and order to the country with education and cultivation, and if the natives react with violence they earn being called stupid. The most fascinating scenes are always with the natives, though, especially every scene with doctor Karanja (Earl Cameron) who is the backbone of humanity in the film, placed in a very sensitive position as working with the whites to help his own but disowned by his own father. The dramatic finale caps the solemn drama, and as in all real stories, that's where the real story begins, the last shot being of the one innocent person and foremost victim of the whole conflict. The initial scene sets the theme and the tension, which lasts throughout and is never really resolved, the conflict going on still today, as white farmers of South Africa and Zimbabwe are being murdered still today. Both Dirk Bogarde and Donald Sinden make rather poor figures of stolidity, and you never really see them come to some deeper senses. Virginia McKenna as always brightens up the arduous drama with her beauty and crowns the film with a sustained romance – at least that will continue after the film. I can't raise any objections against this film, which honestly gives such a full picture of the Mau-Mau situation as was possible and calls for important attention to the great social problems of Africa, which mainly consist of inherent and almost incurable superstition. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048620/?ref_=nv_sr_6 French Can-Can (1955) (7/10) A disappointment of superficial flippancy all the way in spite of technical brilliance 3 August 2017

Brilliantly made, colourful and gay, all the technical full-fledged resources of the vast experience of Jean Renoir is used in flamboyance, but it doesn't help. The story is hopelessly thin and superficial, almost stupid in its simplicity, the characters are all 311


just casual types with very few exceptions, there is no drama at all except in flash moments, and even Jean Gabin falls flat and for once does not die in the end. Nevertheless, the finale is breathtaking with its ten minutes of ballet, and the film is worth watching if only for this, while all the rest is just flippant nonsense. There is not even any real sense of humour. His previous "The Golden Coach" was overbrimming with that, and it's surprising that Jean Renoir left that vital ingredient totally out of this movie more made 'at home'. Even the music is insipid. I saw it in black and white 50 years ago on television and was disappointed by its inanity. I thought it could be worth being given a second chance and in colour. but alas - it was still only a very casual flippant totally superficial entertainment of no real sense and meaning, in spite of all its technical brilliance. Jacques Demy would soon come with the real stuff on stage with much better music. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046998/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The End of the Affair (1955) (10/10) Getting into trouble by love, war, bombs and metaphysics. 29 December 2017

This is Deborah Kerr's film, and although she always made excellent performances with her suavity and sensitivity, here she has the opportunity to excel herself in playing out all that and more. Van Johnson partners her convincingly enough, although his accent should have been a little more English and a little less American. Peter Cushing's excellent diction compensates it. I never saw a failed screening of any of Graham Greene's novels, on the contrary, they usually manage to enhance the argument of the book, which actually should be the purpose of screening, and when it succeeds, as in perhaps the most classical example of all, David Lean's adaptation of "Great Expectations", the film succeeds in adding to the cult of the story. This story is more difficult to glorify as it is a most complicated and painful love affair with no happy end. It transcends itself in its complexities involving God and all that, as Deborah gets confused about involving him in her case, which leads to the tragedy, which is awful indeed. They all bleed for it. On the other hand, that's what makes this trivial love story of lasting interest. It's not just a wartime noir with bombs and politics making a mess of things, but a human drama transcending reality in its metaphysical crisis and trial of human values, of loyalty, fidelity (not the same thing), and the problems of responsibility and obligations that are implemented by love once it gets started. When Maurice Bendrix loses Sarah and can't understand why, this triggers his investigation of her case, which her husband rightly questions, and Maurice admits himself, that you don't do that. What he finds is more or less by accident and totally

312


unintentional, which could excuse him, but on the other hand, if he hadn't done this forbidden thing he wouldn't have learned the truth, and there would have been no story. However, it's Deborah Kerr as Sarah that impersonates the drama and the tragedy flanked by a number of male actors at their best, even John Mills as a detective, and Graham Greene must have felt flattered by this film. He could have had no more ideal director for it than Edward Dmytryk, one of the best directors and human instructors in film history, perhaps the very best one together with Elia Kazan. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048034/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Soldier of Fortune (1955) (9/10) Interesting Hongkong ethnic documentary of the 50s with a swashbuckle intrigue. This film is better than its reputation. Susan Hayward and Clark Gable have been complained about as an unsatisfactory pair, their romance isn't convincing, and so forth, and there definitely is something stilted about their relationship, Clark goes too hard on her, and she is too much Susan Hayward to be convincing in her stiffness. The main asset of the film is the fantastic presentation of Hongkong in the 50s, with the zampans, the street life, the strange life of the Europeans and their difficulty to adapt to China, the Chinese general adds a touch of timeless tragedy to the ethnic panorama, and the Australian pub with its Russian cabaret lady adds some necessary comedy. As usual in Edward Dmytryk's films, it's a great story, and the actors are all perfect. Maybe it's a bit over-varnished, especially Clark Gable's galanterie, he is made a bit unnecessarily to overdo it, while Susan Hayward's American stupidity and duplicity goes a bit too far with her - she is too intelligent an actress to play stupid. Hongkong is the main character of the film, that's what you will remember of it, while you are content with letting Clark Gable and Susan Hayward just have their way and leave them. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048640/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Left Hand of God (1955) (10/10) Humphrey Bogart on a most unvoluntary mission as a Catholic priest 30 December 2017

This is better than Edward Dmytryk's other Chinese film of the same year from Hongkong, "Soldier of Fortune". Here is another soldier of fortune but of an opposite kind. Humphrey Bogart as a Catholic priest lands in a village somewhere between 313


Sinkiang and Tibet among the mountains, where there is a bandit gang threatening the villages under the chieftain Lee J. Cobb, the perfect crook in all his films. It seems that Cobb and Humphrey have met before, and the best scenes are between these two men, very opposite but matching each other perfectly. Gene Tierney is the nurse in the village who has the misfortune of falling in love with her priest, while E.G.Marshall makes one of his best performances as the village doctor, married to the equally stalwart Agnes Moorehead, the greatest realist in the film. The villagers also play an important part, the school children, the patients, the local whore-house, the elder of the village - like in "Soldier of Fortune" the ethnic panorama here is of major interest. The backbone of the film though is the fantastic story. Humphrey plays one of his most complex and intriguing characters and does it more than well in perhaps his last real film and one of his very few in colour. The village is not only threatened by bandits and the civil war of China, (this is 1947), but also by the impending possibility that the mission has to be abandoned. E.G.Marshall and Bogart have many arguments about this, and they are never agreed. The conclusion is inevitable, and although it's not a happy end it is in a way most satisfactory. It was after all the best of all possible endings. It's a beautiful film and one of Dmytryk's best. You recognize some of the arguments from "The End of the Affair" where God also played some part, but here he does not intrude, although he is used, but it is rather more common and rational sense that has the last word here than any theology, which actually is better done without. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048291/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Hell’s Island (1955) (8/10) What will not ladies do for jewels? 12 March 2018

This is a surprisingly good movie for being a B feature with no stars and no special names of attraction to it. Above all, it's a well composed and intriguing story. It's a tropical noir in flamboyant colour and with Francis L. Sullivan as the most interesting character, here in a wheel-chair, leading the hunt for a missing invaluable ruby lost in an air crash on this unidentifiable Caribbean island full of mysteries. The leading lady, a former mistress of John Payne's, is the spider in the web of the mysteries with a husband locked up for life and imprisoned on another island outside as responsible for the death of the one casualy of the air crash, who had the ruby. Well, let's not proceed any further here, since the story as such with all its intrigues and tunnels, twists and turns cannot be told better than by the film. The very adequate music adds to the magic of the tropical island and the dame of mysteries and intrigue, and there will be some more casualties before the skies

314


eventually will clear and show what really happened, Francis L. Sullivan making the most striking exit in his wheel-chair. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048160/ The Finger Man (1955) (10/10) "Is there room in the world for people like us?" 12 May 2018

The question is asked by Lucille in her last scene, as she lies in the hospital to be detoxicated, and she is in hell. She is one of many female victims of Dutch Becker (Forest Tucker) who "owns" fallen girls "body and soul" all over the country, according to the police only in nine states. Frank Lovejoy as a frequent jailbird gets a chance for a clean slate if he helps the police to frame Dutch Becker to make it stick. That is the plot. It's a grim film of spartan conciseness, and there are many interesting minor details that are important but risk getting bypassed by the action. All the scenes with Gladys Baker (Peggy Castle) are captivating, especially the last one, the longest shot in the film. In fact, it's all the expressive scenes with the women (and they are not many) that makes the film magic and of lasting interest beyond the limits of its time and age. Frank Lovejoy reminds in this film very much of Eddie Constantine, the forerunner of James Bond but with a school of hard knocks behind him and a scarred face, that ultimately ruined his career. Frank Lovejoy has no scars, but he does have knuckles and uses them frequently. You simply have to love him, and the more for each trouble he starts. The music is also outstanding, excellently composed and suited perfectly to every scene. This is a great film on a small level that will outshine most film of the period that were made to be more spectacular. This is a noir down to basics and extremely efficient as such. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048072/?ref_=ur_urv Patterns (1955) (10/10) The tragedy of being redundant and refusing to accept it. 10 April 2018

This is magnificent virtuoso drama all the way squeezed into the small claustrophobic world of ruthless business, commanded by tyranny and driven to 315


inhumanity, but not without resistance. Ed Begley makes one of his most memorable performances, if not his best one, as the bullied vice-president, seconded by Van Heflin, who as far as I know only made excellent films, and this must be one of the very best. He understands the situation although he finds himself trapped in it with no way out except the hardest possible one, which he ultimately chooses. Everett Sloane plays the villain, the ruthless business man who only lives for money and power and resents the conscientious objections of his vice-president, inherited from his more human father's days. But it is Ed Begley who makes the film. Although you must agree with Van Heflin, begging him to resign for his own good, he refuses to do so against all common sense, simply because he knows he is right and can't compromise with that. Van Heflin is torn between his deep sympathy and solidarity with the aging veteran on one hand and the obvious necessity to compromise on the other and is almost torn asunder in the process, fortunately with a wife to help him on. This is filmed theatre at its best and at the same time a refreshing settlement with opportunism - Everett Sloane is the ruthless but humanly limited opportunist, Ed Begley is his contrary, while Van Heflin learns the lesson and takes the consequences. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049601/?ref_=tt_urv The Chicago Syndicate (1955) (8/10) Dennis O'Keefe sorting out the followers after Al Capone with some wounds on the way 23 May 2018

Nothing happens in this rather bleak and sordid noir about Chicago gangsters, until Alison Hayes pulls the gun in the middle of the film, and then the action starts, amounting to rather interesting proportions. Dennis O'Keefe is no William Holden, who would have been the right actor for this role - Dennis is too fidgety. Paul Stewart on the other hand is perfect for his character, and the other ladies are good as well, Abbe Lane as the night club primadonna in decline with a catch on the boss, and his mother. The best scenes are with these women, while it is Alison Hayes who runs the show from half way on. The finale approaches the depths of "The Third Man". So although you yawn and look for something else to do meanwhile during the first half of the film, the second half must have all your attention. The dialog is riveting and splendid all the way, even Xavier Cugat gets a role to play and not only instruments, so it's after all a film well worth seeing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047934/?ref_=ur_urv The Deadliest Sin (1955) (8/10)

316


A great thriller on a small scale with an intricate conundrum touching the absolute obligation of silence 7 June 2018

There are some great moments in this film, and they always come with a vengeance as a surprise. Perhaps the greatest titbit is the parenthesis with the blonde in the bar, a special treat and a delightful change of scenery, which otherwise throughout the film is rather grey and stale. It all happens in a small town in England, where a lost son is coming home to his crippled father in a wheelchair and his sister with a boyfriend, who is an architect. Nothing ever happens in this town of Tunbridge, but on the arrival of this prodigal son, whom no one knows what he has been up to in America, there are two murders in two days. He has not committed the first one, and there are no witnessaes to the second. However, the springing point in this film is the confession which introduces the film, in which the architect, a catholic, makes a confession to a priest, and the priest, who knows all, must not on any circumstances reveal the confession, That's the law of the church. So the police, who knows that the priest knows, is in a predicament. The sweety pie in the bar is Dorinda Stevens, whom you never have seen in any other film, while she is very much like Carolyn Jones in "Shield for Murder" the year before - the scene is almost copied, but here the soft Dorinda brings Sidney Chaplin home. Although a sorry story, it's an interesting development of it with a grand Hitchcockian finale in church worth waiting for. Sidney Chaplin sustains his difficult and extremely revolting character to the end and at least makes a great act of it. Pity that young Englishmen should go to America to learn such bad manners. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049129/?ref_=ur_urv Escapade (1955) (10/10) The mystery of a boy scheduled for expulsion from school. 17 June 2018

Philip Leacock was an expert on filming children, and every film of his is a masterpiece, not just because of the children, but they are usually highly sophisticated, intelligent and interesting plots of steadily increasing suspense. Here is a mystery from the beginning which you only get vague hints of by the strange manoeuvres of the boys, so you as the audience will be as befuddled as the headmaster (Alastair Sim) not being able to make head or tail of anything. John Mills is excellent as usual as the aggressive pacifist, and no wonder his wife cannot stand him. It gradually appears that they have several children and not just

317


the one clandestinely reading comics when he should go to sleep. The topic of the comics will emerge as an interesting clue to the whole story, as the children see more clearly what the grown-ups are up to than they themselves - "Newspapers are comics for grown-ups, and the problem is they take them seriously." The great architecture of the film is the towering mystery as it eventually climaxes in sensational glory, dwarfing the whole political world to children's play, while the children are the ones who do something about it. It's one of the most wonderful boys' film ever made, and typical is, that once you have seen it you look forward to see it again. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048043/?ref_=ur_urv Lola Montès (1955) (10/10) The tragedy of a woman becomes the tragedy of a film 6 December 2018

Max Ophüls' last masterpiece in a long career of almost only such is a tragedy masked as a comedy. Lola Montès, whose story is a matter of fact, was a gay dancer acting throughout her life as she felt without lying to anyone or hiding anything, like a paragon of reckless straightforwardness, which made her the most notorious woman of the 19th century with lovers on her merit list like Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who lost his kingdom because of her. But the film is not a biopic of a courtesan. It is a phantasmagoria and artistic expertise in the creation of a fullblown masterpiece of form, colour, scenery, cinematography and above all beauty. Every single scene is full of exquisite details of beauty, this is probably the visually richest film ever made, which makes deficits in acting and tempo negligeable. Max Ophüls didn't have to prove he was the most accomplished director in film history, he just was the most accomplished purely by nature - he could be nothing else, it was natural for him, which brings us to the tragedy of the case. The first night of Lola Montès. in Paris on December 23rd 1955 was as much of a disastrous flop as the first night of Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" 50 years earlier. It was a disaster economically, it was a scandal, people booed, they found it boring, few understood the extremely clever form of this multi-dimensional drama expressed through diving into a fallen woman's mind at the end of her tether, and the producers mauled it and cut it to pieces to desperately make money on it anyway. Max Ophüls, its creator, took this so hard that he could not stand it but died of a broken heart after a little more than a year at only 54. Not until 1968 efforts were made to restore the original version, resulting in a 90 minutes' cut down feature shown mainly in film studios, and not until 2008 the original was fully restored. So this is in many ways a most unique film, for its ingenious way of treating a very complex story of intricate psychology, depicting the long fall of an honest woman as the victim of her own outstandingness, for its marvellous cinematographic virtuosity, for its overwhelming beauty and richness, and for being one of the most ill-treated films in history, sharing in a way Lola Montès' own fate.

318


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048308/?ref_=tt_urv I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955) (9/10) Lost in a sea of sorrows drowned by alcohol 13 March 2019

This is a true story and very meticulously told, as Susan Hayward enters the role deeply enough to make it overwhelmingly convincing and true in heartrending sincerity. The only foible of the film is that it is too long, some scenes are unnecessarily overdrawn in their painfulness, while the most interesting and rewarding part of the film is the inside picture of the A.A. Of course everybody knows about Alcoholics Anonymous and what it is all about, but only true alcoholics get to know it from the inside, while this film actually reveals it from the inside, so that you feel that you become one of them and included in the community. Only a talented and intelligent actress like Susan Hayward could have gone through with making this role convincing all the way, and her performance raises the film to top level, very comparable to Ray Milland’s ”The Lost Weekend” by Billy Wilder ten years earlier, more efficient and impressive, but this film is more elaborate and documentary. Of course, you can hardly bear seeing it more than once in your life, while ”The Lost Weekend” is a film many will return to. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048191/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Kiss of Fire (1955) (9/10) Running the gauntlet with a princess through intrigues and lands of risky Indians 19 March 2019

The bravura of Jack Palance is irresistible in this film. I didn't know he could act so well. He is a Spaniard nicknamed El Tigre, and he is all passion and audacity. The film is full of violent passions, which tend to get the better of the acting men to their own disadvantage. Red Indians are involved also, one of the most enjoyable scenes is when Palance and his royal company are invited for a mutual dinner with the Indians, and the chief gets indiscreet concerning the women, which leads to consequences. There are intrigues also, Palance is supposed to escort the princess Lucia to Spain, the only way from New Mexico there is by California, the hazardous road leads through Indian country, and there is another party of Spanish soldiery who are intent on making the princess never reach Spain. The purpose of her being brought to Spain is that she is supposed to be the next Queen of Spain by marriage, but others want to marry her on the way. So there is a lot of randomity on the way through the tricky mountains with their savage Indians, but the most serious problem turns out to be that the Spaniards are prone to get into fighting each other and not just for the sake of the princess. So there are many strifes and arguments for

319


all different parties of the film to get seriously mixed up with, and it's difficult to see any end to the constantly increasing troubles. Ultimately a Spanish captain appears to know how to handle problematic Spaniards best. But the best part of the film is actually the music - outstandingly romantic and excellent all the way. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048262/ Pane, amore, e... (1955) (9/10) The Maresciallo Vittorio de Sica on new amorous adventures by the sea 23 April 2019

The third part of the Maresciallo adventures trilogy is quite different from the previous two in being in colour and cinemascope, and replacing Gina Lollobrigida with Sophia Loren in a completely different environment. The Maresciallo returns to his native town Sorrento by the sea between Naples and Capri as a Comandante and is immediately exposed to new amorous adventures and perils, one being the crude fisherwoman Sophia Loren, who has occupied his home, and the other being a pious saint in the opposite direction (the lovely Lea Padovani). Sophia already has a boyfriend with a temper good enough to fight with anyone, so Sophia will not be easily convinced, although flattered by de Sica's undeniable gentlemanly advantages. The film is not on par with the two previous ones but the more enjoyable for its beauty and colours and wonderful environment. The dialog becomes second to the cinematography and rather banal intrigue, while the dialog is the backbone and core of the previous two. You lack Gina's tempestuous and very down to earth temperament, while Sophia Loren is more stylish but less convincing as a fisherwoman. Vittorio de Sica though is optimal as always. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050817/?ref_=ur_urv The Night My Number Came Up (1955) (10/10) When superstition proves too reasonable to be neglected 26 Decenber 2019

This fantastic almost documentary film of a flight incident with its metaphysical preludes is like a corollary to "The High and the Mighty" of the same year, but this is in black and white and much more to the point. The real argument is about a dream. An officer (Michael Hordern) dreams about an air accident which troubles him, and he commits the mistake of communicating the details of his dream. Eventually, the flight with Michael Redgrave from Hong Kong to Tokyo develops into this nightmare flight with almost every detail corresponding exactly to those of the dream. While above all it's a great air flight thriller, it's also something of an 320


experiment and a thorough speculation in the phenomenon of dreams coming true. The actors are all perfect and natural, and leading actors like Alexander Knox and Denholm Elliott (quite young here) have a very hard time, especially the pilot Nigel Stock, who more than sweats it out. It's a film you wouldn't have missed for your life - if you survive it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047278/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 La vena d’oro (1955) (9/10) Difficult relationships as a son can't accept his widowed mother's new suitor. 4 January 2020

The young actor here (Mario Girotti) is no one less than the film star later known as Terence Hill acting in a lot of spaghetti westerns with the fat man Bud Spencer. He could never make sympathetic roles, and already here he does everything possible to bungle the intrigue, which is led by Marta Toren (irresistibly charming as usual) and Richard Baseheart as the archaelogoist, who discovers the young man Mario Girotti and employs hím. The boy lives alone with his mother (Marta Torén) in a magnificent villa close to the archaeological site, and Richard falls in love with her, a relationship develops, which is all but ruined by the ill-mannered boy. Nevertheless, the film is saved by its magnificent cinematography, and there are some scenes which you will never forget, not only the New Year's Ball (giving associations to Visconti's "The Leopard" ten years later) but above all the letter scene, when Marta dictates a farewelll letter for her son, in which she pours her heart's blood. The scenography is outstanding throughout, and you would gladly see the film again just for the settings and the scenography, in which ruins play an important part. The film is thoroughly enjoyable, and lovers of Marta Torén and Richard Baseheart will not be disappoited. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048779/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The King’s Rhapsody (1955) (9/10) King Errol Flynn at home getting a wife and queen and having a mistress, who leaves him 10 March 2020

The first part of the film is of sustained perfection and interest and adorably beautiful in every detail, especially the costumes, the colours, the music and the dances, culminating in the ballet sequence before the wedding. After the wedding the interest drops, as the king gets more melancholy and both his ladies seem to lose interest in him, while he actually never wanted to be king in the first place. Nevertheless, this is a much underrated masterpiece of beauty, unique in its kind,

321


while the film that comes closest to it is Ernst Lubitsch's last film "That Lady in Ermine" seven years earlier. Ivor Novello's music is endearingly delightful all the way and furnishes the film with a golden frame. I couldn't help loving it, in spite of its flaws, its slow tempo, its tedious moments and Errol Flynn's rather disinterested acting, although he is excellent as usual. Both the ladies are adorale, but I think the prize goes to Martita Hunt as the Queen Mother, who always makes a lasting impression. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048258/ Helen of Troy (1956) (10/10) Homer updated to Cinemascope in the 1950s Surprisingly good, many factors adding to an excellent Cinemascope version of the Trojan war, above all the script, which is clear and consistently relevant and sticking to the subject; and although very far from Homer, this variation of the intrigue is impressively intelligent and definitely logical. The first half of the film deals with the Spartan argument, (Homer's epic doesn't start until 75 minutes into the film,) Achilles (Stanley Baker) making an impressing entry, with Brigitte Bardot as Helen's slave girl who is given for the night to Paris by Menelaos but instead helps him escape – she is only 22 but striking – you recognize her figure before you see her face. Niall McGinnis is very convincing as the jealous Menelaos whose jealousy Helen finds it necessary to escape, while most surprising of all is the convincing excellence of Paris especially but also Helen. Jacques Sernas (totally unknown to me) is the perfect Paris, a beautiful young man of great charm, sympathetic intelligence and audacious insolence, and Rossana Podestà (also unknown to me) is a very credible Helena, masking her real identity to get away with Paris from Menelaos. Among the Trojans, Cedric Hardwicke makes a very plausible Priam, he is given the most famous quote of the Trojan war, taking Helen round her chin: "So this is the face that launched a thousand ships," (Christopher Marlowe), and also Nora Swinburne as Hecuba, Ronald Lewis as Aeneas and Janette Scott as Cassandra, a Trojan parallel to Brigitte Bardot. Only Hector is not quite convincing, Harry Andrews being the wrong type, (Eric Bana is the better compensation in the 2004 Wolfgang Peterson version), and all the battle scenes are dramatically violent and bloody enough. The action is swift and never dull, the dialogue is comfortably fluent all the way, the story is well but not exaggeratedly sugared with romanticism, and to all this comes Max Steiner's glorious music, culminating in the orgy of the wooden horse. Of course, you have to make a comparison with the 2004 "Troy" version. None is better than the other. Both have their great credits and very few lacks. The 2004 is technically more excellent, while Robert Wise's contribution (in the shadow of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" of the same year) is more realistic and human. The Trojan adventure is such a great story that it's impossible to make a mess of it. As far as I know, no one has ever been unsuccessful in dealing with it – the 322


characters are too individually outstanding, all of them, not to naturally add to a great show. But of all the film versions, I think Robert Wise, with his concise and clever editing of the story, with its flamboyantly efficient story-telling (it's less than 2 hours,) and exciting virtuosity constituting an excellent epic for all time, has made the best of it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049301/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) (9/10) Cantinflas takes you for a ride around the world with gentleman David Niven, clumsy Robert Newton and the dream princess Shirley McLaine This was something of a cult film of my childhood, and it's a very fascinating experience to see it again after +50 years. As a child it was only a great adventure experience, and the spell of the exciting travel thriller story made you wallow in the book for years. 50 years later you can better assess its qualities and faults. Of course, there are any amount of deviations from the book, although the main structure is all there, but some of these deviations make the best parts of the film, especially the first adventures with the balloon into Spain with José Greco even treating you with an almost full evening ballet performance, let alone the bullfight the morning after. Cantinflas is the major acting asset of the film, creating a thoroughly sympathetic minor factotum of many arts almost like a Latin Chaplin, but David Niven is convincing enough as Phileas Fogg, Shirley McLaine make a beautiful princess, and Robert Newton as the cockney detective couldn't be better. Still, the major highlights are the great feast scenes, the Spanish adventures, the San Francisco brawl, the Indian funeral, the Japanese circus and the train rides, – only the sea voyages are cut a bit short. Of course, they should be experienced on the wide screen they were made for, but even in a computer frame the adventure still brings out all the magic enhanced by a very well composed score with the unforgettable "balloon waltz" as the jewel in the crown. In brief, this great adventure of the 50s carrying on the moods from Jules Verne and George Méliès is well worth watching still today for the major entertainment it is, on perhaps the best travel story ever written. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048960/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Carousel (1956) (9/10) Poor carousel barker Billy marries cute Julie and gets killed when she has become pregnant, with metaphysical consequences. I had no expectations at all and knew nothing about it when I was given a chance to see this in my country the least known of Rodgers-Hammerstein musicals. The first thing you are met with is some metaphysics, and then the show starts and goes on throughout in splendour and marvellous choreography throughout in a very rustic environment of fishermen and very ordinary people, who by the music are raised to a lyrical level of some prominence. It's a wonderland of beauty very originally mixed 323


up with great human passion and drama including an upsetting tragedy with reverberating shock effects. The story is curiously exotic and strange for an American musical, but then the original story is actually Hungarian taking place in Budapest and is a bleak tragedy indeed, which even Giacomo Puccini asked permission of the author to make an opera of, which he would not risk it getting debased by. Rodgers & Hammerstein succeeded in transforming it for the stage and make it work with wonder, changing the end, of course. The actors, none of them very known today, are all outstanding, and no objections against the story and its morals or lack of morals are justified. This is a fairy tale brought down to reality with its metaphysics and fairy tale wonders made real in the cinema and enhanced by the overwhelming excellence of the music. You can see it as a morality, of course, but then it is a very edifying one, turning the bleak tragedy of failed human efforts at some worldly success and love into a triumph of the actual good will. This is not only a film to wonder at and enjoy but to do so more than once and again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049055/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 The Killing (1956) (10/10) A day at the races… 26 July 2016

A number of the greatest directors made their first film their best one, and Stanley Kubrick is no exception. Puts Hitchcock in the shadow for excitement. Sterling Hayden carrying a guitar case like in "Johnny Guitar" the year before. Perfectly suited music all the way. Three, no, four very important ladies, very different, each with excellent characterization – one gets shot. Kola Kwariani almost succeeds in stealing the show in the first rustle. Elisha Cook Jr scared stiff all the way but almost a survivor. Marie Windsor frightfully cool. How could possibly anything go wrong? Well, it all did. As hardcore and hard-boiled as a noir can be. No exaggerations needed. Already in his next film Kubrick started exaggerating. "A day at the races"… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049406/?ref_=nv_sr_6 Autumn Leaves (1956) (7/10) Joan Crawford marries a much younger man with fatal consequences. Something is very wrong here. How is it possible for such an intelligent woman of high presence and awareness not to see from the beginning that something is wrong with this so much younger and immature man so persistently making love to her without even knowing her? The story is not credible, and it gets worse all the time. It is a cinematic masterpiece, one of both Robert Aldrich's and Joan Crawford's best, and the splendid direction and cinematography conceals the psychological flaws. Worst of all is the end, which gives you the impression of pasting up a psychological failure. Of course, if the story had been more realistic, it would not have made the

324


same brilliant and fascinating film, which indeed at least keeps you on edge until the dreadful final scene, which ruins everything. I am sure Hitchcock would have called this false ending a disaster. Lorne Greene and Vera Miles add to the story and make it really interesting, but they are too soon disposed of. It's definitely worth seeing for the sake of Joan Crawford, her beauty and splendid acting, but everything else is just put there for the enhancement of her. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048967/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Lost (1956) (8/10) A lost baby ends up a cliffhanger 31 July 2017

Well made but not much of a story. You suspect from the beginning that there is some innocence involved or some mistake or some misunderstanding, but the following of the police work is terrific, the systematical persecution of the smallest clues, some buttons leading to a story of its own, a shred of a torn page from a book, and of course many mistakes and red herrings on the way. My only difficulty was with Julia Arnall, the mother, who was only allowed to make one more film and then sent home. She overdoes it all the way, and no wonder her husband loses patience with her. Of course, any mother in a similar situation would react in the same way, wailing on the brink of constant hysteria, but she is overly lackadaisical and therefore not quite convincing, repeating herself more than actually acting, trying desperately to seem like Grace Kelly; but Grace Kelly was beautiful and could act, while Julia Arnall is just a faint copy. Well, that's how I found her acting. Fortunately there is David Farrar, reliable as always for the supreme suspense. All the others are perfect, and the finale is worth waiting for. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048315/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Gorilla (1956) (9/10) A professional hunter in the Congo caught between the perils of a manhunter gorilla and a blond scandal beauty of a tourist 18 October 2017

This was a spectacularly impressing film for its amazing animal shots, actually catching life in the deepest jungles of the Congo 60 years ago in the 1950s. The photo is by Ingmar Bergman's favourite photographer Sven Nykvist and brags all the way of splendid professionalism. The story is rather banal but nevertheless well told, an established Belgian hunter having trouble with a Swedish tourist imposing on him with her total ignorance of the jungle, and with a gorilla harassing a village and killing villagers. This is the first Swedish colour film, and it's amazingly well made under evidently extremely primitive circumstances. The main asset of the film is not 325


the story or the players but the splendid photography of the animals, especially elephants but also crocodiles, giraffes, okapis and the gorilla himself, towering in terror like almost a mythical figure of mystery, the film building up to a nerveracking finale of the difficult gorilla hunt. Also the psychology of this lonesome gorilla and his predicament is very well unveiled. It''s a film on the level with the Swedish master of nature films at the time, Arne Sucksdorff, who almost simultaneously filmed in colour in India from the deep forests there, but with natives only. Here the beautiful Gio PetrĂŠ as the blonde tourist in shorts add an extra charm to the jungle adventure and hardships, but I agree with the previous reviewer, that the film is best regarded as almost a documentary. It actually ends by asserting the fact that its story is true. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049272/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Spanish Gardener (1956) (9/10) Passion drama between men of very different ages derailing into crisis, clinch and catharsis. 22 October 2017

Heartrending story of a friendship between two very honest people, a simple Spanish gardener and the young son (about 10) of the hopeless bureaucrat he is working for, who doesn't understand his own son's own good and keeps on blundering through the whole film, until it is too late to make amends, succeeding only in ruining his own life and almost his son's. But they made a great drama out of this seemingly idyllic trifle from the paradise of Costa Brava in Spain, and the acting is wonderful - all are perfect. Michael Hordern makes a very difficult part as the father, you hate his stupidity with all your heart and must understand and share the boy's very reasonable feelings in the end, Dirk Bogarde plays by understatements as usual and makes his part the more efficient for that, while the real character is Cyril Cussack as the servant in the kitchen – the man releasing the shocks. I have never seen a film made on a novel by A.J.Cronin that failed, I have said this before, they seem all to approach the level of masterpieces just by their psychology, and this is certainly no exception. The very efficient music and the wonderful colouring add to a real treat worth wasting an evening on. Almost a tenner, at least 9,5. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049787/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Beyond Mombasa (1956) (7/10) Anthropology getting mixed up with sedition and murder 10 January 2018

It could have been worse. As it is, at least some of the actors are excellent, especially Christopher Lee as the only elegant mermber of the party, a dashing French hunter in Africa leading the others into the depths of the jungle to solve the mystery of Cornel

326


Wilde's brother's mysterious death. Cornel Wilde himself appears to be a somewhat rowdy Canadian, and it takes some time for Donna Reed to find any charm in that drunken buccaneer. Leo Genn appears to be a somewhat sanctimonious missionary, but he is too good and placid to be true, and he never made the seminary. There is one more interested party in the treasure hunt, but most interesting are the natives and their behaviour, especially their music - the trumpeteer Eddie Calvert has a guest performance in this colourful safari film, where you also see all kinds of other animals, the hippopotami and the crocodiles being the most impressive seconded by giraffes, and of course there is a tame chimpanzee. It's not a bad film, there is some excitement and charm to it, the jungle environments are terrific with their hidden dangers, and it's not too long. It's an entertainment with a fresh and nice dialogue, that at least should leave you happy and content afterwards when the curtain has fallen on the exotic drama of how an African sect could be manipulated out of the jungle. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049005/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Black Tent (1956) (9/10) Lawrence of Libya, or love among the ruins between Tobruk and El Alamein 3 November 2017

Brian Desmond Hurst made many great films but was not much of a director. He often took care of immensely great and interesting stories with great action and fascinating intrigue and had a knack for getting outstanding music to them as well, but his films are annoyingly impersonal, as if he didn't care about the actors but just focused on getting it all done and the story told. This is one of those films, typical of him, telling a great story, featuring characters of considerable interest, but coming out with only a very conventional and almost expressionless product. He just couldn't dramatize. There are many other assets to this film, though, like the photography with the epic and extremely romantic environment, the most romantic scenes taking place in the ruins of an ancient amphitheatre, the most spectacular part of the film, and dwelling long on a very comprehensive Libyan wedding among the bedouins. We don't have many films from Libya, this is from long before the days of Khadaffi and Isis and all that jazz, and what you are shown is a paradise among the bedouins in the shadow of the dramatic turnings of the second world war by Tobruk and El Alamein. What especially lifts this film is the splendid music by William Alwyn adding another dimension of colours to the already resplendently colourful film, enhancing especially the romantic scenes with that extra touch which the actors and dialogue are not able to provide. The script is by Bryan Forbes together with the author of the novel, Robin Maugham, and there is nothing wrong with the script, the saga being so humanly interesting as it is, but such a tale could have been made so much more of. It's the stuff of Lawrence

327


of Arabia, Rudolf Valentino's sheiks and even of Charlton Heston's Moses in the desert. Of course you come to think of Hurst's other films, like "Dangerous Moonlight" (with the Warsaw Concerto), "Simba" (of Mau-Mau in Kenya), the Malta Story with Alec Guinness, Hungry Hill and The Lion has Wings, and they all suffer from the same thing: great stories, but crippled by lack of flesh to the bones, as if the director thought the actors were of secondary importance to the epic. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth giving a chance, for its exotic settings, its great story (with a surprisingly apt end), its splendidly coloured desert environments, its romance among the ruins, and its very vivid music, the most alive part of the film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049014/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Scarlet Hour (1956) (10/10) "When I am dead you may not even drive me to the morgue." 29 January 2018

This is unusually funny for being a noir. The plot keeps developing in most surprising and sometimes hilarious new directions, as the complications pile upon each other in this (for the police) inextricable murder mystery, while not even the perpetrators themselves, not any one of them, really can understand what happened. The lead played by Carol Ohmart would have been perfect for Barbara Stanwyck, and at moments Carol actually looks like Barbara, and most strikingly so in the last scene. Tom Tryon is like a substitute for Montgomery Clift, the same kind of helpless gullible victim of a superior woman who knows her arts, and there are even some Hitchcock moments in this film, like in the bathing sequence, when you all the time are aware of a third man watching them, although he doesn't come forward until afterwards. The major comic ingredient is Elaine Stritch as the constantly slightly tipsy friend, one of several friends earnestly doing what they can to help the puppets of a grimly ironic destiny out. You expect more murders and gun shots in this drama of passion, but it's not necessary. The plot is quite enough entertaining in itself, no further exaggerations are needed, and even the end with its perfect cliffhanger question mark is satisfying as such. No further action is needed. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049718/?ref_=ur_urv Wicked as They Come (1956) (10/10) The strange case of a woman who got all men but wanted none. 6 February 2018

328


This is an amazing film for its very dense direction bringing the best out of a rather cheap story and some totally unknown B-actors, Herbert Marshall being the only film star among them and playing the shabbiest role. Arlene Dahl in the lead reminds very much of Kim Novak in films like "Vertigo" , the same kind of superior beauty with something wrong about her, while Michael Goodliffe, somewhat reminding of Trevor Howard, stands for the passion that turns on the drama. Philip Carey as the male lead succeeds in making a very complicated part and character quite convincing and likeable, the one who saves some human dignity in a pit of human pitfalls. It's as a psychological drama that the film is highly interesting, modern and timeless. Almost everyone sees that there is something wrong about Kathy in her cruel disdain of men while at the same time everyone must fall for her, but no one can understand what the trouble is, least of all herself, or if she does, she keeps a splendid poker face and never loses her control, although, as it proves, she is constantly walking on a razor's edge by an abyss. There are also parallels to Polanski's "Repulsion", it's a related case, but here you get the full story, although not until the end. You are left hanging in the end with everything lost but hope, which is no more than a faint light that no one can know if it will survive. Ken Hughes later made other excellent films, especially "The Trials of Oscar Wilde", and this is no less impressing in its extremely smooth psychological direction where nothing is out of the context, like a perfect jig-saw puzzle with no pieces missing and all fitting perfectly. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049629/ I’ve Lived Before (1956) (7/10) Pilot getting mixed up in the time dimension tries to sort it out. 13 February 2018

It's not a good film, but it's an interesting subject. How they treat it could be discussed indeed, and it's not very well. The story is this. A passenger airplane pilot sees an elderly lady as a passenger he has never seen before but recognizes her and gets confused for not being able to place her. In the confusion in charge of the plane he suddenly becomes another person and almost crashes the plane. When he wakes up at the hospital he still believes he is a crashed war pilot of world war one. Of course, this creates a problem, especially since he doesn't even recognize the girl he is going to marry. The whole rest of the film is only discussions, so it gets monotonous, but Ann Harding as the elderly lady makes a fascinating performance - she commands every scene she appears in, and it's actually her case the whole story is about. It becomes something like a metaphysical detective story. The doctor's explanation of the phenomenon is that it's all about telepathy. All doubters are of course, like always, eventually proved stupid and wrong.

329


Phenomena like these occur, there are always doubters and deniers trying to explain them away, the insistent maniac who is too aware of the truth to be able to compromise with it is always proved right, sometimes not without martyrdom, but here the most important issue is left unanswered. Will the pilot ever again be admitted to fly? Many questions are discussed at length and answered, but this only important one is carelessly and irrationally neglected. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049353/ Nightfall (1956) (9/10) Anne Bancroft as a mannequin getting mixed up with a murder suspect, bank robbers and real murderers 22 March 2018

The suspense is sustained all the way to the last fall, and Hitchcock couldn't have made it better. It's an amazing maze of inrtigue, the protagonists themselves not really knowing what is going on, while the only one who knows everything doesn't say anything, as he has practically given up as deepest down in the mess. Only Anne Bancroft brightens up this very dark and hopeless situation constantly getting worse, and in addition she is here young and beautiful, especially when dressing up and acting for a fashion show. This is really the best scene of the film. Aldo Ray is credible enough as an all too honest victim resigned to the fact that he actaully can do nothing about the hopeless situation, while the gangsters are truly awful, the laughing one making himself even more abominable than Richard Widmark. The greatest asset of the film is the brilliant script, though. It's impossible all the time to guess what will happen next, as the whole film is a charade of surprises. But don't worry. In the end you will find that it all fitted together after all. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049552/ The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) (10/10) Down the abyss of metaphysics 28 April 2018

This is one of the best films ever made on the issue of hypnosis, its use and misuse, life before birth and after death and reincarnation, all tremendously difficult issues and almost impossible to discuss, least of all to come to definite terms with it, except by hard trial and error in bold experiments, which this film and story is all about. The one responsible for the book, a tremendous bestseller in its day, a certain Morey Bernstein, has no interest whatsoever and doubts everything, rejecting all psychic

330


business as mumbo jumbo, until a hypnotic experiment in his presence is too authentic to be rejected, which propels him into studying the subject. By pure personal interest he trains himself into an amateur hypnotist and achieves results as such and finds a very susceptible guinea pig for his risky ventures into the unconscious in a young mother Ruth Simmons, whose husband isn't happy about it. With her under hypnosis the amateur hypnotist stumbles into past lives, as she unconsciously remembers her life as a certain Bridey Murphy in Ireland 1798-1864 in great detail including her teacher, her father, her husband, her brother, local songs and dances of that time and finally even her death, how she died and what happened afterwards, going into the existence of afterlife in limbo and that drifting existence in a vacuum of nowhere - where she almost gets lost. This increasingly hazardous experimentation ultimately risks getting out of hand, so that Ruth's mental health is put at risk, wherefore her husband steps down and will have no more of it. However, the results already achieved, all documented on tape with witnesses, which sessions are truthfully revived on the screen, provide enough material for Morey Bernstein to write his book, which by no means is any proof of anything - who can even prove God's existence or anything metaphysical at all? - while it certainly is intriguing enough to raise discussions without end. To this interesting intrigue comes the terrific acting by all persons involved, especially Louis Hayward and Teresa Wright as the hypnotist and his guinea pig, but all the others also are fully convincing - it's all perfectly organic, as Polanski would have put it. Thus it almost becomes like an documentary, and as such it is invaluable. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049729/ The Midnight Story (1956) (10/10) Tony Curtis as a San Francisco cop getting mixed up with Italian family with war traumas 3 May 2018

This is vintage Tony Curtis when he acted in notable films like "Sweet Smell of Success" with Burt Lancaster and "The Defiant Ones" with Sidney Poitier, and this is perhaps the best of them. It all happens in San Francisco, when a Catholic priest is brutally murdered by getting knifed in the back, and immediately the mystery arises: whoever would want to do so such a thing to a priest who was beloved by all? And there are no clues to the mystery whatsoever. Tony Curtis is a cop and has been raised as a an orphan by the murdered priest, he carries the coffin at the farewell service and there meets a fellow Italian who appears to be burning in hell. Curtis immediately gets a hunch, the faintest of leads by a mere feeling, and lays down his badge to start a private investigation of his own. What follows is a Dostoievskian psychological drama. Gabriel Roland plays the Italian father who welcomes Curtis as one of the family, and he finds happiness and even a perfect fiancĂŠe in the family (Marisa Pavan, like another Natalie Wood as the

331


West Side Story Maria). The character and development of this film is very much like Edward Dmytryk's "Give Us This Day" about Italian immigrants in Brooklyn 1929, but this is more interesting psychologically. The crisis is inevitable, which breaks out into a total tragedy - which proves to have been the only happy solution. It's a tremendous film, and it will remain actual forever and of as lasting an interest as any Dostoievsky novel. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050704/ Tiger in the Smoke (1956) (9/10) Mysteries in the fogs of London with buskers adding to the confusion 4 June 2018

This is a very tricky intrigue which no one can make head or tail of to begin with, as no one can understand why anyone would try to mask as a war casualty long after the war is over, leading to constantly denser fog of a mysterious intrigue involving buskers, who actually lead the perplexing events - they are the chief charm of the film, although there are many such, amazing characters above all, Laurence Naismith as the canon, Bernard Miles as the gang leader, Kenneth Griffith as Crutches, and some fabulous old ladies, Beatrice Varley as the unfathomable Lucy Cash for one. Donald Sinden is the leading male, but although a good reliable actor, he always plays himself and was never very versatile. Muriel Pavlow is better. But the intrigue is the main thing. The lurid photography adds a special flavour to the film, - as the kidnapped victim is dragged away his despair is reflected in the photography of all the neon signs that are passed, the camera's way of following the murderer gives him some mythic magic until he finally appears, and so on. This film is full of tricks, the action is very dense and concentrated and horribly exciting until the mystery is cleared, - and then follows a cliffhanger. Much underrated, this is a film that deserves some attention. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049854/?ref_=ur_urv Trapeze (1956) (10/10) Tony Curtis at the mercy of Burt Lancaster and both at the mercy of Gina Lollobrigida 6 July 2018

Burt Lancaster is the most impressing character here, although both Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida are almost equal to him and many of the other actors as well. The 332


circus world is admirably caught on screen with all its chaotic ingredients of loose ends and relationships, cynical direction bordering on cruelty, elephants and horses, lions breaking loose and of course no limits to intrigue, as there are constant threats of artists quitting. But this is actually a film about the problems of relationships in matters of artistic perfection - they just can't mix. Burt and Tony find each other, but then there is Gina, and Burt, with his greater experience, immediately sees Gina as a mortal threat to the artistry, and so she is, no matter how clever and endearing she appears as she enforces her ambitions at the cost of others. The end is arguable - what actually happens? Will they be able to continue, or will they not? The end is typically abstruse and ambiguous for Carol Reed - he ended a number of his films in the same way with a remaining unanswerable question mark. Above all, the film is a feast to the eyes, after his first colour film "A Kid for Two Farthings" the year before he has considerably developed his artistry for utilizing colours and cinemascope to the full - the film is from beginning to end sparkling with colourful life and actually fathoms the whole circus life completely in all human, animal and artistic aspects. There are some scenes that hit the roof in excellence and unsurpassable top ratings, all the trapeze scenes above all, but also minor scenes, like when Burt and Tony walk on their hands on the street together out of the scene. It's probably the best circus film ever made. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049875/?ref_=nv_sr_1 A Hill in Korea (1956) (10/10) An unknown side of the Korean war - a U.N. British unit at peril 15 August 2018

It's a small film but great in its making. The overwhelming credit of it is its absolutely perfect almost naturalistic realism, filmed in Korea and taking part of all the hardships of the soldiers at very close quarters. You get to know each of the soldiers individually, and MANY of them make unforgettable impressions. More of a curiosity is the presence of a very young Michael Caine among them as the youngest and the only blond one. He isn't noticed much and isn't seen much, but he is actually in it; while also Robert Shaw makes a very early and very palpable presence. The main characters though are Harry Andrews as stalwart and dominating in his imposing stature as ever, and Stanley Baker as the toughest and hardest of them. You don't like him, but in the end you must wonder if he wasn't right after all, while of course there is also the martyr, all lost and making his situation constantly more awkward in succeeding in doing everything wrong. The settings are also quite impressing with the Buddhist monastery as a refuge, like a Korean Alamo for a last stand, but here there are actually some survivors; while the greatest quality of the film is the individual close-up attention given to everyone of these forgotten heroes. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049302/?ref_=nv_sr_1

333


A Cry in the Night (1956) (8/10) Edmond O'Brien as a policeman having his daughter grabbed by a debile brute 26 August 2018

I was not particularly fond of this picture. It's a rather sordid naturalistic drama about loneliness, a young man living with and hating his possessive mother seeking desperately a way out by going rounds at midnight as a peeping Tom, and sees Natalie Wood (18 years old) being kissed by a well-to-do young man in a very smashing car. He slugs the boy and steals the car with Natalie Wood in it, whom he brings to a place where no one ever can find them. The problem is that Natalie Wood's farther is Edmond O'Brien and a choleric policeman. None of the characters are sympathetic, there is very little humanity in this, and Raymond Burr as his mother's victim is almost painful to look at - this was his last film before he became Perry Mason. It's a difficult part, he does what he can out of it with more or less embarrassing results, while Edmond O'Brien vents his choler on both his family and the police force. Of course it can only end one way. It's almost a Theodore Dreiser kind of intrigue, with none of the characters being more than ordinary and with almost an enforced effort to make the thriller exciting, but Raymond Burr and Natalie Wood are very far from Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in Frank Tuttle's previous "This Gun For Hire"‌ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049110/?ref_=tt_urv 23 Paces to Baker Street (1956) (10/10) Van Johnson as blind and quite alone to begin with to investigate what turns out to be more than just a murder 27 August 2018

The title immediately gives you associations to Sherlock Holmes and his mysteries, and this is indeed a detective story and thriller worthy of Conan Doyle's high standards of investigating and solving a case. The mystery here is that no one knows what is going to happen or who is involved in what crime planned. The only thread is an overheard conversation at a pub by a blind man, but Van Johnson is just the man for it. He always makes interesting characters, usually tragic, often pathetic, and here he is blind and the only one to take his own experience seriously. Fortunately he has Cecil Parker to back him up as his butler, like another Dr Watson, and Vera Miles as a motherly secretary who is more interested in nursing and pleasing and making things easy for him than to humour his impossible investigation. The policemen are also skeptic at first, but when gradually things start to happen to corroborate Van Johnson's absurd ideas, they start reacting, like other Bulstrodes. 334


The intrigue builds up very slowly but very carefully to eventually reach unexpected heights of excitement of a plot thickening to involve murder and gunfire, and all this takes place in foggy London just by the Thames 23 paces from Baker Street with a pub as the starting point of this considearble drama. The music by Leigh Harline adds an important part to the atmosphere with its rather Ralph Vaughan Williams kind of booming dark orchestral moods. It all ultimately amounts to a perfect thriller. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048919/?ref_=tt_urv Time Table (1956) (9/10) �Every case is an ulcer.� 31 August 2018

Brilliant tight thriller and a minor but classical noir. There is everything in it: a doomed romance, an alcoholic doctor, bars with loose women, corruption and murder - although a minor film, it provides it all. The perfect crime is flawlessly staged, and when one slight detail goes wrong the whole watertight enterprise gradually starts to disintegrate but slowly, piece by piece, as an honest man with a happy marriage by his own doing gradually is pushed further and further down the abyss of increasing criminality. Mark Stevens made many films of this kind and acted in even more, and although he never quite got out into the limelight as any central figure, his performances and contributions were always reliable, usually on low budget. This was probably one of his best films, which he directed, produced and acted himself, and there is no pause for catching your breath in the constantly accelerating action. This is a film to return to for its ingenious composition. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049857/ When the City Sleeps (1956) (9/10) Polyphonic thriller with an accelerating serial killer assaulting the wrong woman 6 September 2018

Although it's not one of Fritz Lang's best, it's definitely Fritz Lang and more advanced than most. A whole editorial office is engaged in the hunt for John Barrymore Jr, who has problems with his mother and identity and therefore resorts to extraordinary reactions. Rhonda Fleming is the beautiful dame in danger, as she is not only married to Vincent Price, editor-in-chief, but also the lover of his closest associate, which of course Vincent Price knows nothing about. Dana Andrews is the public relations face often appearing on television but more often than not more drunk than not, in love with the secretary of George Sanders, another editor, who

335


engages the columnist Ida Lupino to bring Dana Andrews off guard. The third editor is Thomas Mitchell, who actually does something. They all vie for the post of Vincent Price's executive director on the newspaper, wherefore they all want to be the first to find the killer. They all make mistakes, but Ida Lupino sails through all the intrigues with flying colours, and she is actually the winner and the main ornament of the film. They are all ultimately winners in the end in spite of all their blunders, since as journalists they are all experts at saving faces. Apart from the sexual maniac, this is actually a comedy about intrigues on a newspaper office, a little bit like "His Girl Friday" and "Deadline", and very entertaining as such. A bar is the main stage of events. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049949/?ref_=ur_urv Alexander the Great (1956) (8/10) Many lacks and wants in an otherwise admirable effort to put the Alexander saga on screen 21 September 2018

It is of course inevitable to compare this film with Oliver Stone's more advanced version of 2004. The Robert Rossen version falls short of almost everything, except some details. The main qualities of the film lie in the absolutely perfect and most enjoyable diction all through, like almost a Shakespeare drama on stage - Richard Burton is only one out of a splendid gallery of eloquence. Another quality worth observing is Robert Krasker's outstanding photo - every picture and scene is classical. The most interesting part of the film is the first part, with Frederic March as the pathetic limping king Philip the drunkard, which must be a wonderful role for any actor and which no actor could fail in - Val Kilmer made that part in Oliver Stone's version, but Frederic March is even better. Some other of the more interesting parts are Peter Cushing as the doubting Memnon and his wife Claire Bloom as Barsine, later Alexander's mistress - they are the only ones who openly challenge Alexander's vanity, before Cleitus is killed for it, which concludes this film, the later half of which (from Philip's death onwards) is a terrible simplification of the Alexander epic, in which most things are either completely wrong or just passed by in a hurry - especially the battles, which are dilettantic in comparison with the great Stone battle scenes. Harry Andrews makes an imposing king Darius but is not allowed to act very much. For the rest, the whole Alexander epic is spoilt by the fact that you only see the landscape of Spain - there is no connection with Asia at all. Unfortunately the film as a whole is a failure, when so much could have been made out of this subject. The first half remains interesting, but then the rest is stumbled across to get done with, while Oliver Stone's film is so much more rewarding, although being very far also from reaching the actual target. At least Colin Farrell is slightly more credible as Alexander than Richard Burton, who makes a very superficial impersonation of the greatest warrior king that ever lived and doesn't seem to have understood him at all. The important part of Hephaistion (Jared Leto in the Stone version) is missing here altogether, and Danielle Darrieux, for all her

336


beauty, makes no impression at all in comparison with the perfectly fitting Angelina Jolie as Alexander's indomitable mother. Most lacking is ultimately Robert Rossen's script. The dialog, no matter how eloquent, is not substantial and not dramatic and as superficial as the entire film. The actors make the best of it, but Robert Rossen was not up to the task of living up to his enterprise as both producer, director and writer of the film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048937/?ref_=tt_urv The Man in the Road (1956) (8/10) Ella Raines helps escaped asylum patient out 7 November 2018

As a mystery thriller the intrigue is not bad but rather fantastic and incredible, a little bit too overdone in complexity to be convincing, but the Russians actually worked along such lines in the cold war, using all kinds of brainwash techniques including hypnosis. It's all about hypnosis here, the victim wakes up without a memory and is more or less coerced into accepting an alien half Russian identity which he is sure isn't his real one, but he can't find his real one, because his brains have been tampered with. Cyril Cusack makes an important contribution here as another patient, a doctor persuaded to cooperate with the kidnapping league bribed by unlimited access to whisky, which he accepts since he is a failed doctor and an alcoholic, and he works constantly on getting too tipsy to be able to regret it. The scenes with him and with Ella Raines are the best and most interesting in the film, although Donald Wolfit, as always, impresses with his acting, this time as the overbearing professor, who even one of his doctors finally has some objection against. It's not a great thriller but interesting as an entertainment, and you will remember Cyril Cusack and Ella Raines better than Derek Farr. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050679/?ref_=ur_urv The Price of Fear (1956) (7/10) A fine lady getting caught up with a trap of destiny 25 November 2018

Merle Oberon is always worth experiencing in any circumstances, and here they are rather confused. She is a top member of society, a lady above reproach, who happens to a car accident: an old man with a dog loses control of his dog and walks out into the street without seeing her coming, she hits him, she wants to report it

337


immediately to the police taking responsibility at once, but as she already is starting to talk in a phone booth, her car is stolen. Instead she reports her car stolen. That's how it begins. It appears she wasn't quite satisfied with the film herself, because after this film she almost never appeared on screen again - just a few TV shows, some minor parts now and then, while she still had a long life ahead and never lost her beauty. It certainly isn't one of the best noirs, rather pale for a noir, and the script is too muddled up with improbabilities. How could she at all have anything to do with those rude gangsters, that later gets her involved, the last thing she wants? She blames her weakness, and that is very womanish, of course, so there is much in this film to discuss - Lex Barker isn't very attractive either, so their love business isn't very convincing. Anyone could love her, but he is rather wooden, while the other guy, Warren Stevens, is simply impossible in his rudeness. It's worth seeing for her sake, you will remember her, but you will forget the picture. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049636/ Lisbon (1956) (9/10) Ray Milland a smuggler with Maureen O'Hara a would be widow and Claude Rains a nasty godfather 11 February 2019

This is an elegant thriller in the environment of beautiful Lisbon with the sea as one of the major fields of action in a difficult intrigue involving smuggling and even possible murder, however, as in all thrillers, things don't work out as planned. Ray Milland is a professional smuggler in a boat regularly visiting every port of the Mediterranean for deliveries and fishing, Claude Rains is a fox of a wicked godfather running dirty business professionally and assisting others in the same, sometimes converting them to the same activity, and Maureen O'Hara is a beautiful young married lady to a multi-millionaire advanced in age who is expected out of prison at any moment, but the question is if he will come out alive or dead. The latter would suit Claude Rains' purposes and maybe others' as well, but there is also plenty of romance in this film, with exquisite visits to a number of delicious restaurants and tavernas with adorable music all the way throughout the film (Nelson Riddle). Also photographically the film is enjoyable, but the main thing is the suspense, since everything relies on the release of the old millionaire (25 million), whether it will succeed, what will become of it, and what complications will turn up - there are always complications. The direction and acting leaves nothing more to be desired, and everything is next to perfect, including a satisfactory conclusion. It could have gone worse. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049446/?ref_=tt_urv

338


La fortuna di essere donna (What a Woman!) (1956) (9/10) Sophia Loren getting photographed in too good a moment for her own good 9 March 2019

This is great Italian comedy at the peak of its screwball virtuosity, with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in their third film together with Charles Boyer for an extra touch. The conversation is furious all through like constant crossfire, seldom has so much been spoken in greater haste in only one hour and a half, which sees Sophia advance from an innocent aid to almost a top film star, just because the equally innocent and simple photographer Marcello Mastroianni happened to take a picture of her just passing by in a golden moment, which ended up as a magazine cover causing a sensation, with a long train of complications ahead, including court proceedings. Naturally the incorrigible girl hunter and count Charles Boyer gets interested and almost gives her his wife’s fur coat, but you can’t have everything. Marcello is after all more in her own age and has some advantage of his experience of intrigue as a journalist photographer. It’s a delightful comedy but very superficial, there is no cinematography here, only bang on with flashing talk all through, but if you can follow you will be tremendously entertained. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049226/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Toward the Unknown (1956) (9/10) Aiming for the sky but sticking to the ground of reality 1 April 2019

Although this film turns to aviation enthusiasts and experts, it should be of general interest, because of the very interesting psychology, since most of the action is not in the sky but inside the leading men. William Holden comes from Korea scarred for life after 14 months of brainwish in solitary imprisonment, he never tells everything about it, but you have reason to guess at the worst, but because he finally cracked, he is not trusted any more with the supreme test pilot responsibility for advanced rocket flying. However, Lloyd Nolan as the general and chief test pilot is an even harder nut to crack for his stubbornness and refusal to admit that he is getting too old, and another very interesting trait of the film is the advanced sense of discipline. When Holden once breaks out into a temper, he immediately accepts his lapse as reason enough to resign from everything. It amounts to some very exciting development as the test flying of the rocket plane X2 gets started. There is however only one casualty in the film, although general Lloyd Nolan himself almost crashes in the very introduction to the film. It's all about going to the furhest possible extremes in the matter of challenges and flying high.

339


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049870/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_30 War and Peace (1956) (9/10) This one of the greatest of epics can only be made justice on a big screen in a large cinema 9 June 2019

Nothing bad could be said about this film, but it has a few flaws. Henry Fonda is one of them, miscast and unconvincing although he acts well, he said so himself and was only in it for the money, Wilfred Lawson as the old Prince Bolkonsky is another, he was better as Alfred Dolittle and only good in comedies, but that is all. Of course it's impossible to squeeze a novel like "War and Peace" into a short film of 3,5 hours, but the effort was admirable enough, and the result is still definitely the cinematographically most impressive and beautiful screening of one of the greatest of novels. Every scene and picture is full of beauty, the photography is a marvel all through, which makes this film one of the most pictorially enjoyable ever made. To this comes Audrey Hepburn, Nino Rota's discreet but perfect music (with some apt borrowings from Russian sources), Mel Ferrer's absolutely proper rendering of a tragic case of detached disillusion constantly getting worse, and above all the case of Napoleon and his grande armĂŠe of 450,000 men going down the drain. There was never a better Napoleon on screen. One of the strongest impressions in the film is how he handles his whip, restlessly moving it on his back until it suddenly stops as he is faced by the reality of the situation in Moscow. Another is the epic rendering of the retreat, especially the tremendous disaster at Beresina, a chapter which Tolstoy jumps in his novel, as the Russians used the desperate situation of the French at the river crossing to mercilessly attack them. The epic war scenes, some of the most impressing in film history, were so far the costliest ecer made. Because of its so many outstanding advantages, this is for me the best film version of "War and Peace", in spite of its many inevitable shortcomings. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049934/?ref_=tt_urv Flame of the Islands (1956) (8/10) Men at the mercy of their women, and women getting caught up with the wrong men 1 August 2019

She is no Ava Gardner and no Rita Hayworth, but is reminding of both. In fact, Ava Gardner would have done perfectly in this role, if you forget about the singing - not even Rita Hayworth would have made singing performances like that, although Yvonne's dancing isn't bad at all. And what about all the guys around her? Zachary Scott is all right and is the one who behaves well. The less said about Kurt Kasznar, the better. Howard Duff was promising indeed, the perfect man to marry, but then 340


there was all that business about his mother, who couldn't live without him, and a godmother on top of that, who is even more possessive. The ladies play the major part in this Caribbean soap opera, although the story and intrigue is quite good and fascinating. Yvonne de Carlo remains the one star of the film, outshining everyone else and dominating every scene. Although the script is good, the dialog could have been better. The hoodlums add some spice into the soup. It's great entertainment in gorgeous surroundings, all the best in the Caribbean, but apparently the budget was a minimum, the screening is poor, and the direction seems rather casual. Nevertheless, the film is definitely worth seeing for the sake of Yvonne de Carlo and her character. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048079/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 A Town Like Alice (1956) (10/10) The female side of the war of "Bridge on the River Kwai" 30 September 2019

This is in black and white which underlines the great pathos of the story and its lost women in the war, having to wander hundreds of miles across Malaya as there is no place for them in the war of the Japanese in Asia. Yet there are a few interesting Japanese persons as well that must raise anyone's deep sympathy. The story is by Nevil Shute and as excellent as any of his outstanding novels, usually taken directly from his own experience or reality. However, the true story behind this formidable drama was about Dutch exiled ladies in Indonesia, which could be important to remember. Virginia MacKenna is always a joy to behold and here in a sarong more lovely and beautiful than ever - she and Peter Finch make the film an unforgettable experience. There was another screening of "A Town Like Alice" some 25 years later for television in many epoisodes, but it was bleak and bloodless in comparison. Here you feel the intensity of the drama and the terrible presence of the war and its implications in every scene, and it's all perfectly realistic, concentrating on the main thing. The TV series was much more extensive getting lost in unnecessary details and with less impressive actors, while this film will be a lasting monument forever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049871/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Long Arm (1956) (9/10) A small burglary affair that for its professionalism looms to great heights 1 December 2019

A brilliant thriller, and the more brilliant for dealing only with non-violent criminality of an advanced technical kind, as the burglar in question is a professional 341


who has worked out a system of foolproof and almost impeccable systematization of his craft, which never can exclude the human factor, though, - and naturally,. even he must commit mistakes. There is only one casualty, the young Ian Bannen in one of his first parts, and he acts it brillantly, like Errol Flynn in his first film part was a glorious dead body and nothing else. The cinematography is also excellent, and the climax is not missing. Jack Hawkins as the leading police officer is reliable as usual, and all others are also quite on the level. It's a brilliant film on a B level but rises up to A for its excellent handiwork and keeps you busy and engaged all the way, from the smallest minor details in the beginning to a sustained suspense in the end. Almost 10 points. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049845/ The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) (9/10) The irresistible Jane Russell in the thick of things at Pearl Harbour 1941. 26 December 2019

Jane Russell is blindingly magnificent as always, but the one who actually steals the show is Agnes Moorehead as her employer in a Hawaiian night club in Honolulu, an establishment for lovely girls to entertain American soldiers but very strict on rules and morals. Jane Russell gradually advances into a leading position, as the incident of 7 December 1941 at Pearl Harbour breaks out. Jane Russell makes a very interesting character here, being thrown out of San Francisco as an undesirable prostitute (probably being too successful) and settling for a new life in Honolulu just in time for Pearl Harbour. A soldier finds her, and there is a passionate relationship - this is a very romantic film. However, his condition is that she leaves the establishment, while Agnes Moorehead persuades her to stay on and not let the soldier know. Of course he gets to know about it, and the obligatory crisis follows. Nevertheless, the conclusion is rather satisfactory. It's a colourful fireworks etertainment with romance and war and Jane Russell as the irresistible scandal beauty making the world go around. The music by Hugo Friedhofer is terrific, maybe his best, and adds a consistent enjoyable flavour and perfume to the film, which gets more and more fascinating as the plot with its complications rolls on. Jane Russell's beauty is something that just has to be irresistible to anyone - maybe especially if she plays a tramp. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049672/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Gervaise (1956) (9/10) Maria Schell with three children and two failed husbands, who ruin her life 16 March 2020

342


This is probably Emile Zola's greatest novel in its overwhelming naturalistic revelation of the progress of alcoholism, and RenĂŠ Clement follows the novel conscientiously hardly missing any detail, extremely consistent all the way to the last shattering picture of the ultimate consummation of Gervaise's case. The film reminds very much of the best films of RenĂŠ Clair and Jean Renoir, the public scenes are all marvellous in their genuineness, culminating in the great dinner in the middle of the film, bringing back Gervaise's first husband, who abandoned her with two children at an early stage, whereupon she had to have a husband and found Coupeau the roofer, whom she married and started a new and happier life with, until he fell down from the roof and turned an alcoholic. Well, the film is dominatingly positive most of the part, the street life and common life of the ordinary people of the quarter is depicted with great charm and consistent good humour, while inevitably the tragedy must begin, although fortunately late enough. It is Maria Schell's film, of course, she makes another of her unforgettably lovable female characters, her charm and beauty is always irresistible, and here at times she even provides a striking likeness with one of Raphael's most lovable madonnas. The film is a masterpiece, although somewhat long, while the naturalistic realism of Zola at times becomes unpleasantly overwhelming in its ruthess lack of prudence. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049259/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Istanbul (1957) (8/10) Errol Flynn on a romantic nostalgia adventure in Istanbul. This must seem like a very superficial second hand plagiarism of "Casablanca" to many, but there is actually much more to it than that, if you bother to look deeper into the story, another fascinating study in a case of amnesia with a lot of question marks, many of which you have to figure out for yourself. Errol Flynn comes back to Istanbul after five years and remembers the turbulence of his last visit, in which he was involved in some diamond smuggling. He had a great and promising love affair, when everything was brutally interrupted by unforeseen circumstances, and he couldn't come back for five years. On his return he meets again his great love, but she is another person, and he has some trouble in understanding the situation, especially since she is now happily married, or at least so it seems. There is very much in this intrigue of seeming appearances while much more isn't easily told. The superficial impression and unavoidable associations to "Casablanca" are especially exacerbated by Stephanie's almost irritating likeness with Ingrid Bergman, but there is no Humphrey Bogart here. Instead you have an unusually sober Errol Flynn with almost a stone face, covering up stormy feelings with some difficulty, which must trouble him all the way. But the finale is a wonder of almost metaphysical turnings of a totally unexpected nature, and that's where you have to complete the picture by your own thinking; because Errol Flynn's sober face is never more stony than when he has given up all.

343


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050552/?ref_=nv_sr_5 A Farewell to Arms (1957) (8/10) Hemingway's first great war and pacifist epic grossly neglected and underrated. What is wrong with this film? The main problem is that there is nothing wrong with it. Everything is just perfect and couldn't have been made better, both the script and the screening far outshines the Gary Cooper/Helen Hayes bathos version of 1932, the script by Ben Hecht takes care of all the best of Hemingway's, the war scenes are realistically impressing enough, there is nothing wrong with the acting, Jennifer Jones always reliably doing her best, and here even Vittorio de Sica adds some virtuoso excellence in one of the most important characters of the film, in brief, no complaints. So why are so many complaining? Maybe in 1957 the First World War felt so far away and outdated by the Second, or maybe Hemingway had just been filmed too much? At least "For Whom the Bell Tolls" of almost 3 hours in 1943 was trying enough, where nothing happened until they at last got down to some fighting in the end. Well, well, I simply can't agree with all the thumbs down for this film. Even the music is a success, sweetly caressing the lovers all the way, and even Rock Hudson isn't too bad. I think it's time for this film for some exoneration. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050379/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Legend of the Lost (1957) (9/10) John Wayne and Rossano Brazzi at the mercy of Sophia Loren and their passions out in the desert 4 August 2015

An amazing film, totally out of the ordinary, almost unknown today, deserves refreshing, very much reminding of the classic silent "Greed" by Erich von Stroheim – it's the same atmosphere, the same desperate passion, the same hopelessness, the same drama intensity in a totally outcast state as far from reality and civilization as possible, only, this is in colour, this is exotic, this is flesh and meat, and here is Sophia Loren. She actually makes the film. From her first scene you catch yourself watching only her, and her character is the most complex and fascinating. John Wayne is as he always has been, he could only play himself, while Rossano Brazzi more credibly matches Sophia. His tragedy touches on the absurd, but on closer scrutiny his development into psychosis is perfectly logical. The script (Ben Hecht screwing it up as always) is perfectly watertight in its complex turnings and sudden surprises in the winding labyrinths of the relationships, constantly taking the audience aback, and to this comes the fascinating story of the quest for a lost city in the middle of the Sahara – this also brings "The English Patient" into mind.

344


But above all it's a passion play, three is never good company if one of them is a woman and she is beautiful and irresistible at that for both the men, and the passion is played out efficiently in the ruins of the failed archaeological enterprise with the ecstasy and agony of Rossano Brazzi as the heart of the matter at the mercy of hopeless love and delusion. No matter how much he falls out you tend to like him better than John Wayne, who is so hopelessly crude in his simplicity. There are even some hints at "Mackenna's Gold" in this in part even rather mystical drama, as the omens of the skeletons add an extra touch of marvel. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050629/?ref_=nv_sr_6 The Traitor (1957) (9/10) "All music is sad. Prelude to death." 11 May 2017

This is a sinister post-war drama with a terrible ring of sadness and tragedy about it, as the murderer is himself unaware of the fact that there is no ground for his motive. It's a tragedy of treason, and no one understands anything about it until it's too late. This is therefore very much a film of mysterious undercurrents, understatements and hidden meanings, a film "written between the lines". It's easy to dismiss it for its failure to convey it's true meaning, but you do it wrong if you don't give it a lot of afterthought. The surviving members of an underground resistance group against the Nazis meet annually in an old mansion outside London to commemorate their leader who was shot on that day by the Nazis. It appears that someone in the group had betrayed him. The new leader colonel Price, played by Donald Wolfit in a typical role of his, announces his decision to find out who the traitor was among them at their new meeting, and no one is allowed to leave the place until the issue is settled. An agent is on his way from Berlin to reveal the name. He never reaches them alive, and two American intelligence officers come importuning at their meeting to make matters worse and more complicated. Donald Wolfit is a sure name to make any film he participates in a most memorable event. Christopher Lee as the doctor attracts all suspicion from the audience by his covert attitude as of a man who knew too much. Anton Diffring as the pianist contributes with the mood by his music, which he wants to call "Prelude to Death" which is altered to "Prelude without a name" by those who want to live. It's very reminiscent and almost a paraphrase of the Warsaw Concerto, it certainly brings the same atmosphere but is less efficient as music, while the drama story here is much more interesting and goes deeper. It's the difference between before the war and after.

345


At the same time it's a very intriguing murder thriller on the level with Agatha Christie, but here everything is logic and natural, it's a matter of inevitable tragedy of fate and not at all an artificial intrigue, like commonly with Agatha Christie. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051105/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Witness for the Prosecution (1957) (9/10) Charles Laughton coming to terms with Marlene Dietrich over the scoundrel Tyrone Power 30 June 2017

This is actually a comedy, and its artificial intrigue and superficiality is all too transparent for anyone to be able to take it seriously. Yes, it's a murder trial, and murder is dead serious, especially since the punishment in 1952 still was death by hanging, but there are too many flaws in this case to make it credible at all. For example, if Tyrone Power didn't kill her, who did? No other candidate is ever presented, except a fabricated hypothesis of a possible thief, who anyway didn't rob anything, while the broken window clearly wasn't smashed from the outside for a break-in. The prosecutor fails to make this apparent conjecture clear as the absurdity it is and is all the way dwarfed by Charles Laughton as the lawyer. Agatha Christie was a very skillful writer, all her intrigues are logical and watertight, but they are all superficial constructions. In comparison with Hitchcock's one great murder trial film. "The Paradine Case" (see my review) which is thoroughly organic all the way with very clearcut and convincing characters, each one humanly crippled by his own weakness, this one becomes no more than an entertainment. It is even regularly funny. Billy Wilder made some of the best films of Hollywood in his time, but at the same time all his films suffer from some non-convincing artificial superficiality. He is very seldom serious and can rarely be taken seriously, never in his later films, perhaps in his early ones, especially his maybe best film "Stalag 17" (see my review). Anyway, the film is exciting and enjoyable all the way, although they scream too much at court, also this is not very realistic, and the most enjoyable acting is between Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton. His wife Elsa Lanchester adds as usual a very personal touch to the comedy. It's well worth seeing again after some decades for its great entertainment value, but there are certainly more interesting murder cases on film, especially Hitchcock's very underestimated "Paradine Case". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051201/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Enemy Below (1957) (9/10) Duel at sea between Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens fighting with their ships

346


28 November 2017

An excellent war film, almost comparable with "Run Silent, Run Deep" also about submarine activity, but this one is in colour with outstanding photography, which makes the monotonous sea scenery a never boring thing; while Robert Wise's war drama in Japan is much more intense and dramatic. Here the two captains are poised against each other fighting out a sea duel with their ships at stake, Robert Mitchum waging his destroyer and Curt Jurgens staking his u-boat. Jurgens is the better actor and plays out his part with convincing power, while Robert Mitchum is just cool as always. It's a rather slow film, only gradually the real drama is building up but rewarding in the end with a finale that no one could have expected. There are some breath-taking sequences, as when the Americans go fishing without knowing the submarine is right under them, and when the destroyer passes exactly above the uboat, so it could have chafed its bottom. It's a classic indeed, and notable is also Theodore Bikel as Curt Jurgens' second, a great character player always appearing in great quality films. He was the original Captain Trapp on Broadway. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050356/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Admirable Crichton (Paradise Lagoon 1957) (9/10) Kenneth More with his women save a hopeless situation for a bunch of hopeless men. 25 January 2018

This is much more than just a delightful comedy and positive satire of English society in 1905 put to trial. J.M.Barrie, who wrote "Peter Pan", has succeeded even better here in creating something of an educating parable with great symbolic and philosophical undercurrents. Not only is the acting perfect in this film, Martita Hunt as Mrs Brocklehurst splendidly outshining all the others, Cecil Parker more ridiculous in his incompetence than ever, Diane Cilento shining through all the aristocratic artifice with endearing innocence, and Kenneth More proving himself once more a superior actor to all especially when tried by humiliation. This hopelessly spoiled family gets stranded on a desert island with their butler and are utterly helpless without him even on that desert island, which they learn to realize, leading to their acknowledgement of his actual competence as they realize their own incompetence and learn something from it. This is Jeeves and Wooster but on a larger scale - they were never stranded on a desert island, and here the women add to the complications, which they seldom do in Wodehouse, as he quite correctly always sees that all trouble in the world actually is caused by men. Here the women save the situation, every one of them, and without them the men would have been at a loss indeed, even with Kenneth More at hand for an indispensable butler. The end is a bit melancholy, but even that is saved by a woman. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050100/

347


Love in the Afternoon (1957) (9/10) Audrey Hepburn in perfect innocence falling for the wrong kind of old loser 6 May 2018

For once, Billy Wilder strikes home concerning the music. Usually the music was the weak point in his films, his best films are those without any music, and sometimes his lack of musicality and terrible use of music, sometimes even degrading music itself, ruined the entire picture, like in "The Seven Year Itch" where he vulgarized Rachmaninov almost to prostitution. But here Franz Waxman saves the show and fills the whole picture with not only "Fascination" but with a number of other endearing evergreens as well. It has been pointed out in any number of reviews how Gary Cooper spoils the picture by being miscast, but it's worse than that. His whole character is a failure, and he isn't even convincing as such. Billy Wilder had a penchant for cheap vulgarizations, and here Gary Cooper is the means. They excuse him for being old and sick, he was 56 and Audrey 28, and he had only about 5 years left to live. Here he is an old pathetic playboy, spoiled beyond hope as a millionaire, and Maurice Chevalier is more right about his character than he is aware of. Also Maurice saves the show by turning serious for a change - and saving the situation. Audrey Hepburn, the script and the music save the picture most of all and turn it into perhaps Billy Wilder's most delightful comedy in spite of Gary Cooper's insufficiency. I saw it fifty years ago, but it was a greater pleasure to see it again especially for the very outstanding music. After all, Audrey Hepburn is here a cellist. And not only Audrey and the music save the picture, but there is John McGiver as well. He would make another decisive appearance in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" as the jeweller, a minor supporting character but the most important spice for the whole film. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050658/?ref_=ur_urv Count Five and Die (1957) (10/10) They always make the same mistake of getting mixed up with ladies in the spying game. 24 June 2018

It takes some time before the action gets going in this film, but when it starts it never ceases to accelerate in intrigue, suspension and drama. Annemarie Duringer is prominetly leading the film by her very suave and susceptible character, most amiable but with an abyss of hidden agenda. Nigel Patrick is perfect as usual, almost too perfect, while Jeffrey Hunter is a bit of an outsider in this game, can't really

348


handle his business nor himself, and he has to pay for it. It's very dark and almost claustrophobic in the insistency on scenes in labyrinthine insides, and only rarely you go out into dark streets fรถr some following or spying or bullets. The title "Count Five and Die" gives away the whole drama - as a spy sent out on a mission you are given a cyanide capsule in case you get caught, and when you swallow it you count to five and die. It's very easy but not really and actually rather complicated, as you don't always reach that capsule in time... It reminds very much of Anthony Asquith's "Orders to Kill" a few years earlier, it's the same kind of problems of innocence and the wrong people getting caught up in the wrong game, and above all the doom of destiny is there hanging around more people than anyone bargained for. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051492/?ref_=ur_urv Boy on a Dolphin (1957) (10/10) Sophia Loren in all her glory, doted on by old Clifton Webb and Alan Ladd 27 June 2018

Clifton Webb and Alan Ladd are two competitive archaeologists in Greece, and when a girl from the islands present them with an opportunity, they get stuck on Sophia Loren more than on her findings. They are British and American, one with money, the other without, but Sophia is all Greek, and this film is all Greece in all its glory, Sophia matching it perfectly, as the best illustration and promotion Greece could ever get at the time. The colours are glorious, especially the underwater scenes are miraculous in their exploration, reminding of Jacques-Yves Costeau's and Louis Malle's "The Silent World" the year before, and the story is likeable enough, with the boy (Sophia's brother) acting as a deus ex machina, and the dyspeptic doctor (Laurence Naismith), who actually is the best actor of them all. I saw this film as a child and always wanted to see it again, but I had to wait for 60 years... but what a rewarding fulfillment! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050208/?ref_=ur_urv Abandon Ship! (1957) (10/10) A lifeboat with 27 on board which is 18 too many. What to do? 26 July 2018

A luxury cruiser hits a drifting mine in a most unlucky manner - the mine doesn't explode at once but goes off right under the keel and instantly sinks ther cruiser in seven minutes with more than 1100 passengers - only 37 survive, and alone in the South Atlantic without any S.O.S. having been sent, there will be casualties among 349


them as well, especially when the wind starts blowing and the seas start roaring with thunder and lightning and torrential rains. The problem is there is only one boat, and those 27 that found it and cling to it are too many, since it was made for nine. Fortunately there is Tyrone Power to take the lead, assisted by Mai Zetterling as a nurse and the stalwart Moira Lister, who both support him, even when all the others turn their back on him. There are quarrels and fights, there are hysterics and terrible pains from wounds and damages, but the real crisis set in when Tyrone Power as responsible for all their lives has to decide which to sort out when it becomes evident that they will all go down if there is not some culling. The dilemma is terrible and turns the ordeal into a nightmare, especially when the storm sets in. This is not a pleasant film but rather extremely unpleasant, but it is a terrific drama which really puts your conscience to the test. Who could possibly make right decisions in such a situation? As it is, Tyrone Power lives up the responsibility while all the others wash their hands. Which is better? As a story and drama realized on the screen it's a strong experience which will last in your mind. It is made very real and is a real conscience test for anyone who is willing to go through with it. All acting parts are superb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050091/?ref_=ur_urv Les Girls (1957) (10/10) Three ladies at the mercy of Gene Kelly, and he at the mercy of them. 7 September 2018

Gorgeous fruit cake of lavish splendour and hilarious comedy, with Gene Kelly still on top and matched by three crushing ladies, who both help each other out of complications with him and intrigue against each other and agaisnt him. His condition for keeping them in his troupe of three, "Les Girls", is that they must keep out of personal complications with private relationships. Of course they all get a complicated reltionship with him, and he with them, one at a time, ultimately ending up in court for libel, since one of the hree graces (Kay Kendall, the real star of this film as the unsurpassed British comedienne number one,) can't help wiriting a book about a certain suicide, which was more complicated than just one. Both she and Angèle are married at that, and when the truth gradually gets seeped out, their husbands get mixed up as well. It's a complicated story, and the great, final and ultimate question is, what is the truth? Which no one can amnswer, or at least not in one way. The direction is superb by George Cukor, who always handled his ladies well, and as if that was not enough, the music is by Cole Porter. What could be any better? This film is simply replenished with only superlatives.

350


https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050631/?ref_=ur_urv Across the Bridge (1957) (9/10) A man hopelessly lost is uiltimately redeemed by a dog 19 September 2018

This is a very remarkable morality by Graham Greene, telling the story of a rich man escaping from justice, meeting with worse adversities at each new turn and effort to get further away, with both some bizarre twists to the tale and some very touching moments. He is played by Rod Steiger, who specialised in highly debatable and unpleasant characters, of which this is one of his worst and most upsetting. It's a very pathetic and depressing story, mostly reminding of Erich von Stroheim's "Greed" this is the same kind of abyss into the dead end which any fixation wit greed must lead into. However, there is a dog who saves the situation. It is also remindful of "The Scar" with Paul Henreid with a similar intrigue of an escapee from justice changing his identity and finding his new identity a worse trap than the discarded one. However, the film makes you think and shows some depth, like all Graham Greene's stories, of understanding into human nature, and is admirable for its sustained consistence in demonstrating the inevitability of the teachings of fate. Noel Willman makes a wonderful Mexican police officer, and Bernard Lee seconds him. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050097/ Account Rendered (1957) (9/10) The problem of a too beautiful wife of a too prosperous banker 12 December 2018

This is a brilliant thriller on a small scale, the restricted format of less than 80 minutes comprising a considerable mess of intrigues, as this wife already from the beginning shamelessly confesses to her infidelity, while her husband receives an alarming note which we are never initiated in, there is a reckless artist involved also who gets mixed up in some fights, and there is extortion and embezzlement, all in a wonderful complex of a mystery where everyone could be guilty wile they all are proved innocent by alibis. Honor Blackman is the leading actress here, not far from a Lizabeth Scott character, while the fast action makes it difficult for all the men involved to catch on, but it all makes sense in the end with great satisfaction to the audience after a Hitchcockian train finale. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050096/

351


The Silent Enemy (1957) (10/10) Almost documentary account of the little known under-water war in World War II 2 June 2019

As a true story, this is of terrific interest, recounting the heroic feats of Lieutenant Crabbe (Laurence Harvey excellent as usual), but the most interesting part of the film is a rather small parenthesis which is easily jumped over. A plane crashes in the water outside the harbour in Gibraltar, we see the crash actually occurring, but afterwards it appears that one of the casualties was the most important man in the Polish liberation army, the general Sikorski. His body is found but not his briefcase, and perhaps the most exciting and well made scene in the film concerns the quest for this briefcase, showing underwater fights for life and death. That's all. The Sikorski case isn't mentioned any more after that, as the main action of the film concerns saving the fleet, but this incident was actually of major historical significance, as Sikorski was an ardent opponent of the Stalin regime, and his death actually was triggered by the KGB - Stalin wanted him out of the way for his own purposes in the war, his leaguie with Churchill being vital for his interests. That KGB actally was behind the assassination wasn't proved until in the 90s long after the fall of the iron curtain, although some naturally suspected it from the beginning but could not enforce a proper investigation. The film sticks carefully to reality all the way, the scenery is Gibraltar, and the almost architectural build-up of the extraordinary under-water war is consistently sustained and augmented in tension all the way. For some, this was their favourite film with Laurence Harvey, which is understandable enough. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052197/ The Story of Esther Costello (1957) (10/10) The strangest possible story of a hopelessly blind and deaf child 15 July 2019

The story is by renowned novelist Nicholas Monsarrat, also known for "The Cruel Sea" and "The Capillan of Malta", two other realistic and documentary novels, but this is not about the war. It's about a deaf and mute poor orphan in Ireland, who is taken care of by Joan Crawford, who makes an unusually impressive performance, without falling into pits of sentimentality and bathos. Heather Sears as the young girl is the chief star of the film, though, unknown and making the performance of her life for a start. The real crushing thing is the story, though. It is devastating in its merciless exposure of commercial exploitation of humanitarianism. The real drama begins as Rossano Brazzi enters the stage. He is a former husband of Joan Crawford, whom she tried to separate from, but when he reappears she is too weak for him, with very unforeseen consequences. The film is beautifully made with brilliant 352


music, and the realism of the story couldn't have been carried through more consistently. I was often irritated with Joan Crawford for her overbearing manners, but here she is quite perfect and admirable all the way. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051015/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 Jeanne Eagels (1957) (10/10) Foul play on stage with consequences 21 July 2019

It is always a reliable pleasure to see Jeff Chandler on screen in whatever role he may be playing, here he is the luna park director of beauty contests, merry-gorounds, roller-coasters and other crazy pleasures, when he is approached by a very annoying lady with towering ambitions to become an actress to the least. He is more or less forced to take her on, they become partners, but her ambitions soon separate her from him, while he remains faithful and is always ready to take her back. Her stage progress reaches awesome heights while her instability and liability of lacking self-discipline brings her into a chaotic roller-coaster of a stormy career, The turning point is when she encounters Nellie Desmond, a famous actress on her way down, who sees Kim Novak as her last chance of a come-back and offers her a play ("Rain" on Maugham's short story, filmed in 1933 with Joan Crawford) which she accepts and makes her own, ignoring Nellie Desmond. Jeff Chandler observes the foul play and warns her, but not even he can ultimately save her. It's a normal the-other-side-of-Hollywood story with terrible ups and downs, the acting and direction is superb, so is the wonderful music all the way, so I can not agree with all the objections to this film. Kim Novak perhaps overacts at times, but that's part of the character she is playing. Agnes Moorehead is as impressing as ever, while the backbone and stamina of the film is Jeff Chandler, one of Hollywood's most likeable actors ever. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050560/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Silk Stockings (1957) (10/10) Ninotchka 20 years after Garbo but in colour, music and dance 11 October 2019

This was Mamoulian's final film and another masterpiece like almost all the others. Here for a change he devotes himself to dancing and singing, this is colourful comedy and very enjoyable as such, making great fun of the cultural clashes between American superficiality and Russian communist orthodoxy. Cyd Charisse is

353


a Russian commissar who is sent from Moscow to lecture three earlier emissaries to Paris who have fallen for the general decadent gaiety. Fred Astaire is the American, a showman who uses a serious Russian composer for common show music in a musical, and the mission of the Moscow emissaries and Cyd Charisse is to save the composer from American vulgarity and get him back to Russia. It's Cyd Charisse who makes this film, she is overwhelmingly splendid all the way, keeping up her style without compromise, and gradually thawing in Paris, but in the very original way of breaking out into ballet dancing. She is all style, and she never loses Ă­t. Mamoulian must have been aware of the tremendous possibilities of the cultural clashes between serious moral orthodoxy of communist Russia and American vulgar looseness and makes splendid use of the opportunity in one of the finest and most stylish final musicals of the 50s. Needless to say, Cole Porter's music adds to the outstanding high class musical standard. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050972/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Man in the Shadow (1957) (8/10) Jeff Chandler standing up alone against corruption - and paying for it 1 December 2019

Jeff Chandler is always a rewarding actor, his parts are usually paragons of virtue, courage and all good male characteristics, and in the film, a minor counterpart to "Touch of Evil", he walks the full length in fighting alone for a seemingly hopeless cause as the whole town is ruled by the corruption of Orson Welles. It's not a major film, but it has definite qualities which make it worth watching and learning from. Orson Welles' daughter (in the film) plays an important part and actually ultimately saves the plot, while almost all the other (male) actors are ordinary corrupt hoodlums. There is a circle around the leadership of the town that ultimately wakes up to what is going on - when it is almost too late. It's a moral story with the message to never give up if you are certain that you are right, especially if you fight for the truth, and as such it's an important film and argument. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050680/ Brothers in Law (1957) (9/10) Ian Carmichael at a loss in the jungle of British law formalities 1 December 2019

The Boulting brothers never deny themselves even in comedies. They used to make very serious films dealing with social problems and vital events of universal interest,

354


but gradually they moved over to comedies, and one of their comedies following this one was "Heavens Above!" with Peter Sellers as a priest in one of his best films. As always, their approach to the subject they are dealing with is deeply human, all their films are poignant studies of humanity, and this is no exception, although it deals with strict formalities at court and the difficulties with these that a young inexperienced lawyer encounters as he has to grope his way in total ignorance of what the rules are of the uncompromising formalities. Ian Carmichael is even more inept here than usual, but fortunately he has Richard Attenborough to help him and one or other occasional lady. It's a great comedy and witty to the extreme, it's difficult to follow all the turns, but you will be rewarded in the end. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050214/ The Secret Place (1957) (10/10) Children and diamonds 4 December 2019

A splendid thriller, slow in the start, but eventually the build-up begins towards an impressing climax, both story-wise and above all cinematographically. The actors are all more than excellent, especially the boy - one of the greatest performances in films ever by a child. The plot is, to say the least, complicated: it starts simple enough, as plans are made for an infallible burglary into a jewellry boutique, but, as always, unexpected things happen, leading to an extensive mess of complications. Please be patient with this film. There are many dull moments in the beginning, but I promise you, eventually you will wake up. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050947/ Le notti bianche (1957) (10/10) Young lonesome man meets young lonesome woman - who waits for her lover 17 December 2019

This is the very essence of cinematographic poetry. Visconti succeeds with the fantastic miracle of capturing the strange atmosphere in Dostoyevsky's short story, a rare story in his production for its mood of harmony and light - the story takes place during those nights in Petersburg around midsummer when the nights never grow dark. Here dark moods are prevailing, as there is very little daylight and almost only nocturnal settings, in dark streets in a strange town with canals, resembling Venice but being far too shabby and dismal to be Venice. In fact, the whole film was shot in the CinecittĂ studios, so it's impossible to recognize this town. Its moods are very reminiscent of those in Carol Reed's "Odd Man Out", also here there is snow ultimately falling enhancing the poetry, and also the camerawork with its capturing 355


the narrow lanes and their strange dwellers are very much like inspired from Carol Reed's film and Robert Krasker's photography. It's a masterpiece without question, many consider it Visconti's finest film, and a special treat is added by Maria Schell actually speaking fluent Italian - there is no playback or dubbing here, but it's actuallý Maria Schell speaking Italian all the way, although she didn't know the language before. This is one of those films you must never forget but always return to. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050782/?ref_=login The Flesh is Weak (1957) (8/10) The anatomy of prostitution 12 February 2020

This drama is set in Soho and is a shocking presentation of the prostitution problem, showing in detail how it works for an innocent girl suspecting nothing to get caught in a web of ruthless pimps. John Derek had just before played the role of Joshua in “The Ten Commandments” and then plunged into this swamp of ruthless criminality, showing his great versatility. The other actors are good as well, but the main thing of the film is the thorough almost documentarily meticulous analysis of how the prostitution business works – and shocking, for being so highly developed already in the mid fifties. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050399/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 Peyton Place (1957) (9/10) Gorgeous small town chronicle of love gone right or wrong but ultimately triumphing 18 February 2020

This dreadful story of all the scandals and dark secrets of an ideally idyllic small American town is actually enjoyable and sustained in its irresistible charm all the way, not just for the story, the excellent characters, the dramatic surprise moments and the overwhelmingly charming environment, but most of all for its beautiful scenery, with splendour in colours and beauty all the way - there is a lot of nature in it, which enhances the idyllic character, and Franz Waxman's music is almost as appropriate as Tara's Theme in "Gone with the Wind". I loved the film and enjoyed it, but the best actor here is actually Arthur Kennedy, who plays the most difficult part with overwhelming consistence. RussTamblyn makes an interesting character in his development from a shy boy inhibited by his mother to a full grown soldier. Lana Turner has her hundredth anniversary these days, she was always good although never supremely so, and here she is a mature well established woman who has to deal with the problems of her small town nightmares and other women in trouble,

356


which she does well, since she has been in trouble herself. Lee Philips is good enough and matches Lana Turner well as yet another not too supreme a character. The girls lead the story, and they are all excellent, since a lady wrote the novel, especially Hope Lange as Selena, but also Diane Varsi as Alison is excellent. In spite of its brutal revelations of what no people of a small town want to hear about or see, it's a wonderful film to enjoy and remember with tenderness. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050839/ Il cavaliere dalla spada nera (1957) (8/10) Italian romantic swashbuckler at large 20 February 2020

It is set around the 17th century in the Appennines around San Marino above Ancona in a rustic landscape with an impressive castle, where the duchess lives who is to be married in grand style, and the beginning of the film is all about the festivities of this sumptuos wedding, when the bridegroom suddenly is shot dead, and the wedding is transmuted into a funeral. Who was the killer? That's the mystery, but apparently he must have been that mysterious character who constantly appears again and again from nowhere to fight it out with her other suitors. It is a dashing romantic entertainment, the swordfights are many and of high quality, actually on par with Errol Flynn, the tempo is high all the way, the colours splendid, so this is a great Italian costume entertainment with a romantic touch. Being from 1957 it feels somewhat outdated today, but it is full of original and rustic charm. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049062/ The Roots of Heaven (1958) (9/10) The most important and relevant elephant film ever made 10 December 2015

A very odd film like no other, with a startlingly modern and timeless argument and therefore conveying an urgent message for all times. Romain Gary, married to Jean Seberg, was a superior genius, and all films made on his books are on a special level of quality and interest. The argument is what already Walt Disney dared to introduce in "Bambi" – the outrageous abuse of nature by man. The character Morel, aptly played by Trevor Howard, who must have found this sort of character a special treat, takes a stand against man for the elephants and actually starts a crusade against poachers. He is supported by Juliette Greco, who gives the film a very fitting female extra dimension. Orson Welles is perfect as usual in a

357


particularly revealing character of a parody on Americanism, like also Eddie Albert as the final photographer, while Herbert Lom makes a perfect villain. The final touch is Errol Flynn in his last bow as a failed soldier who nevertheless in spite of his exaggerated and pathetic alcoholism succeeds in ending honourably. This is the only film he mentions in his autobiography as a film to be proud of. Objections have been raised against John Huston's direction. The rhythm of the film is very slow, as focus is more on the important dialogue than on any action, but nevertheless he succeeds in sustaining a constant suspense throughout the film although very little happens. In fact, the story in its wild but monotonous settings never ceases to came up with new surprises. It didn't cause much attention in its day, although its problems should have been of concern to all humanity even then almost 60 years ago, few really understood it, since it was so far ahead of its time, but the story with its argument is a compelling work of genius which today is more imminent in its message than ever, and John Huston definitely secured the message. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052148/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Wind Cannot Read (1958) (9/10) Soldier Dirk Bogarde in India in World War II marries Madame Butterfly from Japan who gets sick in Taj Mahal. 18 May 2017

A very beautiful melodrama of tragic love set in India in some of its most enchanting places (including Taj Mahal, of course,) under the shadow of the war with Japan. Dirk starts off escaping from them in Burma and ends up their prisoner once again. Between his ordeals he experiences an ideal romance with a Japanese girl who teaches Japanese to intelligence soldiers, one of whom is Dirk. The class sequences are almost the best of the film. Charming music embellishes the film and wraps it up in bitter-sweet romance which never gets too sleazy, since there are constant complications. It's an odd film for Dirk Bogarde and a very singular war and love story, very much akin to William Holden's war and love experiences in Korea and Hongkong, but this is both more idyllic, more intimate and more personal, since Yoko Tani is a more Madame Butterfly kind of girl, more sensitive and vulnerable, and Dirk is delicate enough to treat her with care. so he doesn't make matters worse, as he did in "Simba". The film leaves you with a few question marks, though. Whatever happened to the miserable Fenwick? You can only suppose the worst. But the worst gaffe is the tremendous mistake of Brigadier Anthony Bushell not to immediately turn back when he sees an obvious booby-trap on the road, a dreadful tactical mistake, which no qualified Brigadier would have risked committing. But then without that goof, there would have been no great finale to the melodrama.

358


The most beautiful detail of the film is the symbology, though, which doesn't become clear until afterwards. A sign says that you may not pluck cherry blossoms while they bloom, but the wind cannot read and plucks them anyway, one of those enigmatic but most appropriate Japanese philosophical adages as a motto for the whole film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052396/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Ice Cold in Alex (1958) (10/10) After all, the only really important thing is to keep an appointment with the proper beer What a great and amazing film this is, bringing in so many aspects on the matter of extreme hardship both at the hands of war, impossible desert conditions, gunfire, death – and beer. This all sums up with the beer, the final release, the final solution, the point of bringing it all together in a kind of universal conciliation. John Mills is always perfect but here better than ever, Harry Andrews is equally reliable, Sylvia Syms brings on the romance with a pretty face shining up the whole desert, while the most interesting character is made by Anthony Quayle (whose memorial day it is today), an always interesting and masterful character player, who adds to the interest of every great film he is in. The final crown of this film is that it is a true story. I saw it the first time forty years ago and had forgotten almost everything except the great final ordeal in the Quattara depression, a drama in itself, bringing on the ultimate solution to every impossible and overwhelmingly trying task – just do it all over again. As a human study in how even the most diametrically opposed people are brought together by the mere trials of fate and under extreme conditions, it's a universal lesson about surviving and carrying on with no good spirits lost but rather the contrary – considerably improved by a lesson for life. That's Anthony Quayle's final words – it has been a great experience, as he is carried further on to unknown lands by his own unknown fate, while he will always keep his friends in good memory as they will never forget him – in a kind of mutual thankfulness between enemies, as they learned their only real enemy was the desert, the worst and severest enemy of all, which they conquered. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053935/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Buccaneer (1958) (9/10) A true story and great drama of the last privateer saving New Orleans for America at the cost of his own world 359


12 July 2017

Cecil B. DeMille's last film (directed by his son-in-law Anthony Quinn, his only film) is a lavish and colourful feast for the eye all the way with some excellent acting by Yul Brynner himself (with hair on for once), Charles Boyer as a pathetic relict of the Napoleon grandeur, Claire Bloom as a wild cat of a pirate's daughter gradually emerging as the only real woman, while Inger Stevens is more like a Barbie doll, E.G.Marshall treading carefully as the governor of New Orleans and many others, but the great story and drama gets somehow obfuscated in the sumptuous and generous mass scenes in splendid Technicolour, every scene making out an impressing image, a typical trait of Cecil B. DeMille, and with glorious fights and fisticuffs in between - the every day life of the pirates of Jean Lafitte is almost the most memorable part of the film. Charlton Heston is a bit exaggerated as old Hickory Andrew Jackson but makes a great impression also. The main thing is the drama, though, which gets a bit muddled up in all the great battle and crowd scenes. It's a tragedy, and does Jean Lafitte really have to take the responsibility for Captain Brown's plunder and sinking of the 'Corinthian'? Whether he had to stand for this crime or not, that's what makes the drama and the tragedy, which nevertheless is saved for a satisfactory end by Claire Bloom as Bonnie Brown, who gets the ultimate victory as a woman and definitely saves the show. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051436/?ref_=nv_sr_2 Anna Lucasta (1958) (9/10) Sammy Davis Jr and Eartha Kitt in volcanic family eruptions. When Sammy Davis Jr and Eattha Kitt act together it's dynamite and a feast for the professional cinéaste. But they are not alone. Equally prominent is Rex Ingram as the father in a completely wayward character that can't control himself, disoriented in life, lost in booze, all mixed up because of his beloved daughter, that he felt he had to banish from his life forever, without succeeding – he is the one who begs her to come back. This is a great play enacted with grim intensity and empathy concerning all the characters, including the mother, the suitor, the family and even the lower people at the joint. An important part is played by Elmer Bernstein's music, ingeniously illustrating the rapidly changing moods and trains of thoughts, also including a fabulous show scene with Sammy going solo – this is actually the apex of the film and story, a spectacular visualization of Anna's downfall and helplessness in the hands of the totally irresponsible Danny, who loves her none the less, but like everybody else, not even he can control his love or his feelings but drifts to the storms of his caprices. In fact, Anna, the fallen woman, adored and despised by them all, is the only one with a character, while the others are hopelessly and helplessly without. But what fabulous acting by these three main characters! This is truly a film to enjoy for a theater and drama gourmet. 9,5 would be my vote. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051362/?ref_=nv_sr_1

360


The Doctor’s Dilemma (1958) (9/10) Bernard Shaw pulling the strings of life and death – with treatment 9 October 2016

Leslie Caron steals the show as the beautiful natural wife of Dirk Bogarde, who steals the death scene. Around this sinister drama of artful death we have four expert doctors, each eager to cure Dirk Bogarde but in different ways. They are all plunged into second thoughts when they learn what a scoundrel he is. This was one of the plays Bernard Shaw chose to call "plays unpleasant", but it's really outrageously pleasant from a both intellectual and human point of view, and Anthony Asquith as the director interprets every nuance of it perfectly. You can't really blame John Robinson (Dr. Ridgeon) for the way he chooses to resolve his dilemma, even if he ultimately becomes the loser and gets Leslie Caron for an enemy for life. He couldn't have acted differently, carefully weighing the different complications of his case in every aspect. Felix Aylmer as the one retired doctor is the one who sees everything clearly from the beginning, and you follow his diagnoses and comments with interest all the way. Alastair Sim is perfect as the butcher surgeon who wants to cut into his case immediately and deeply regrets it when he doesn't get the chance. Robert Morley as the doctor who actually undertakes the case you are liable to suspect of actually finishing it off. You can't blame Dr. Blenkinsop for surviving either. But the triumph is Leslie Caron's, who walks off brilliantly with all the flying colours that her poor would be husband desired and wished for her. It's a great play expertly handled causing much afterthought, since you have to follow it carefully not to miss any important detail. The settings are all splendid with wonderful colours and Joseph Kosma's music perfecting the perfection. It's a full treat for the relish of a choice audience. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052744/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Das Dreimäderlhaus (1958) (9/10) Schubert at ease with all of his friends and his best music This is a very enjoyable film for its charm and idyllic musicality with much of the best music of Schubert – the only other music in the film is by Beethoven, who appears in a few scenes with very impressing pathos, like a continuance of the great Beethoven film of 1949 with Ewald Balser, who here completes the picture of the Beethoven tragedy with poignant acuteness. Karlheinz Böhm plays Schubert with convincing sympathy and communicates a very truthful image of the young composer's amiable personality. The story is of a promising love affair that unfortunately reached an unintentional end and is a typical operetta intrigue – "The House of Three Girls" was a successful operetta based entirely on Schubert's music, but the film goes deeper into characterization and feeling – it's actually a very sensitive film with music playing the lead exquisitely illustrating the moods of the

361


Schubert circle with their parties – you recognize much of it from the equally heartwarming Mozart film three years earlier with Oskar Werner as the ultimate Mozart. The film focuses on the bright sides of Schubert's life and omits the rest, which adds to the charm without going superficial – after all, the unequalled melodious music of Schubert is anything but superficial in its perfect musical purity. This is not only a film for lovers of music and Schubert but for anyone who just want to have a moment of delightful company and entertainment in a perfectly harmonious environment. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051556/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Fröken April (1958) (10/10) Strict banker gets the occasion of starting a double life, as an opera career opens up to him. 18 September 2017

Delightful comedy from Sweden matching most professional Hollywood comedies, both in intrigue, music, outstanding acting, ingenious script and above all brilliant direction. Göran Gentele was very versatile as a director, made Hitchcock thrillers ('Brott i sol'), musicals ('Värmlänningarna') high gear comedies almost amounting to screwball and finally opera. At the age of 54 he became director at the Metropolitan in New York as the crown of his career but never reached there, as he suddenly died in a traffic accident. This film features Gunnar Björnstrand, the grand old gentleman of Swedish film, he was in many Bergman films and always perfect, like a Swedish Ronald Colman, but also the very young Lena Söderblom as a Swedish answer to Audrey Hepburn, – but she actually also reminds somewhat of Giulietta Masina at times. The story is worth observing as well. A perfectly solid banker with his life structured with absolute strictness one day by mistake gets a love letter, it happens to be from a ballet girl, he falls in love with her, suddenly becomes aware of that he has a qualified singing voice, gets into the opera chorus and starts a double life. The main character of the film is a sprightly comedy with constant ingenious turnings often leading to precarious complications amounting to a tremendous finale at the opera reminding of the best days of the Marx brothers. Many other actors are excellent as well, like the diva Karl Julle and his awesome and deadly poisonous fiancée (Gaby Stenberg) while he lives for security with his old mother (Hjördis Pettersson). Douglas Håge is the sorely tried chorus master constantly getting into fits, and the music is Mozart, Rossini, Wagner, Verdi – in brief, an ace of comedies crowded with delights. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051641/?ref_=nv_sr_1 The Key (1958)

362


The hopelessness of war reflected from a little known back side of it. (10/10) 20 September 2017

This is a very sad story but as deep as the ocean, charting the fates of the unknown limbo victims of war trying to make the best of a bleak life in the shadows just waiting for the dark final curtain to come down. Everything is excellent in this film. The three main characters Trevor Howard, William Holden and Sophia Loren make this film monumental in its almost shockingly documentary human drama of a struggle for life against hopeless odds, while the carrot making them go on is the illusion of hope after all. William and Trevor are both captains of tugs in the war saving "lame ducks", ships hit by submarines but not sinking, so they have to be tugged back to harbour, usually under hard fire from the u-boats. There are mines also, guns that don't work in battle, bad weather and what not. They are old friends, have been to Panama together, and when William comes to help the tugging from America (before Pearl Harbour) he stays at Trevor's place, but there's also Sophia Loren as a widow from previous casualty captains. She was at her very best in unglamorous roles, and this is one of them. Her acting is delicately understatement-like all the way, she knows too much about the conditions of war and the horrible cruelty of its merciless laws of destiny, but still there is in her very cool playacting a deep warmth like burning coals that never fade. There is a touch of eternal continuity in this extremely fascinating character. If you know anything about war, this film will touch you profoundly to the core. The black-and-white photography enhances its very human drama. There can never be enough said about rare films like this. There's only one thing to say: it's too good for words. At the same time, it couldn't be more hopelessly devastatingly noir. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051816/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) (10/10) Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster two captains on the same ship with troublesome consequences, 10 October 2017

War movies about submarines are always tremendously exciting, and this one is perhaps the best of all. Everything is perfect in this film, the actors, the music by Franz Waxman which never dominates but accompanies perfectly the action the whole way, the story constantly inviting for another surprise, the very qualified direction keeping up a high tempo of suspense all the way, and above all the technical filming, actually realizing hair-rising naval battles with submarines in Japanese waters. The Bungo straits actually exist and offer a hazardous passage between two major Japanese isles and is an important transport route especially during the war for convoys.

363


Clark Gable is a veteran submarine captain who gets his last command and a very vital and competent Burt Lancaster for his exec, who gets involved in the mutiny mood on board the submarine. The Bungo straits are notorious as a graveyard for uboats, no one wants to go there voluntarily, but that's where the action is, so Clark Gable has to go there and bring everyone along with him on board, which of course leads to reactions; but the crew is in for a hell of surprises on the way. The plot is ingenious and typical of Robert Wise, he enjoyed great plots and twisted them around in his own way just to get them more efficient, as he did in such extremely different films as "The Haunting", "West Side Story", "Helen of Troy", "The Sand Pebbles", "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "The Andromeda Strain" just to mention a few examples. He even made "The Sound of Music". So it's actually no use saying anything about this film. The names ensure a perfect up-lifting experience even if it is of the very cruelest and hardest sides of the worst of wars... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052151/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Elevator to the Gallows (1958) (9/10) A horrible mess of complications to a murder leading to several, but made with fascinating brilliance. 30 October 2017

What a horrible story and extremely awkward predicament! He commits the absolutely most perfect murder imaginable, and then a telephone call makes him forget one detail, and when he tries to remedy his mistake he is caught in an elevator between two storeys and can't get out! And that's only the introductory plot to a web of plots or rather an inextricable mess of misfortunes... There are altogether four criminals and three murders committed, only one planned and three just slipping into it by circumstances. Jeanne Moreau is always perfect in wicked roles, there is a certain trait around her mouth which makes her hopelessly and incurably look cruel, her laugh is never convincing, and she has no sense of humour. That'¨s what's generally lacking in French films, which is why they are best at making sinister films, like this one, "Les yeux sans visage", "Les diaboliques" and other hopelessly dark thrillers, of which this is another one and definitely one of the very best in its grey tristesse and filmed almost exclusively in sterile surroundings that's the dominant character of almost all French films of the Nouvelle Vague, which makes them slightly inhuman. This is more human, since it's a crime passionnel it's all about, and the youths are just humanly stupid and actually try to commit suicide for their offence.