Frank Capra remade his own Lady for a Day in 1961 with Bette Davis, Glenn Ford and Peter Falk and it’s just as intense and poignant as the original, even if at the time it got slaughtered by the critics – who found it sentimental and old-fashioned – and it turned out to be the last film Capra made.
Frank Capra takes on Damon Runyon’s short story and produces a film of extreme emotions and fears. Interesting to watch alongside Vittorio de Sica, who seems to share a similar, somewhat Christian, belief in the essential virtuousness of the poor and marginalised. Luis Bunuel would beg to differ.
Rossellini’s Rome, Open City is on a different level to other Italian neo-realist films. The tragedy, as it should be, is remorseless. An utterly bleak film. Never have the Germans been portrayed as such animals.
Nicol Williamson is hilarious as Arturo Ui, the gangster who ruthlessly corners the cauliflower market in Chicago as a prelude to dominating the trade throughout America in Bertolt Brecht’s allegorical tale of Hitler’s rise to power.
Gary Cooper plays Major Tom Thorn – ‘a sort of Homer on horseback. Galloping around the country looking for bravery in battles’ – in Robert ‘Alexander the Great’ Rossen’s first-rate Western with a magnificent cast, including Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Richard Conte and Van Heflin.
Apocalypse Porn. Film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is relentlessly grim and depressing. In fact, so grim and depressing that it almost parodies itself and becomes funny. To make matters worse, there’s even a heavy dose of sentimentality.
The first part of Fritz Lang’s silent classic featuring the criminal mastermind, Dr Mabuse.
Very nice idea, with lots of good dialogue, which, unfortunately, peters out. Joseph Cotten is terrific as the charming fraudster, trying to keep a lid on his secrets and prevent his true motives from being revealed.
The Freudian angle in Fritz Lang’s film, which at the time must have seemed novel and insightful, now appears utterly ridiculous. A disturbed man reconstructs rooms in which notorious murders have taken place. His latest creation is the bedroom of his new wife. Being understanding, she doesn’t run a mile but tries to help him by unlocking the secret childhood trauma that has turned him into such a grotesque weirdo.
Claude Chabrol irons out the weaknesses in Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone – such as Jean’s religious fanaticism and Giles’ precocious intellectualism – and makes one of his best films, a worthy addition to the sub-genre inspired by the case of the notorious Papin sisters.
Disappointingly conventional heist film from William Friedkin, not salvaged by its stellar cast – Peter Falk, Warren Oates, Peter Boyle, Gena Rowlands, Paul Sorvino. The events on which the film is based are a lot more interesting than Friedkin suggests.
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds couldn’t be sillier; though there is something admirable in the way he megalomaniacally insists on rewriting the history of the Second World War because it suits the interests of the film he wants to make.
In this Hollywood film, John Cassavetes couldn’t stand the demands producers and the studio made on his artistic integrity and expression and decided he would never work like this again. Still, despite all the compromises and flaws, this is a terrific film.
David Goodis scripted this excellent film noir from his own novel. Dan Duryea makes the perfect Goodisian protagonist. Paul Wendkos overdoes it at times with the music, camera and other Wellesian touches.
Clearly influenced by John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese’s film has some good moments – like the above scene with Harvey Keitel – but it can’t escape Hollywood conventions and feels deficient when you compare it to Cassavetes’ much more complex and profound Woman Under the Influence, made around the same time.
Very well written noir – even if the plot is convoluted and hard to keep up with (deliberately?) – about a Canadian pilot who after the World War II winds up in Argentina in pursuit of the Nazi collaborator who organised the execution of his French wife, who was in the resistance. Dick Powell plays the deranged, alcoholic, obsessive husband hell bent on revenge.
Rita Adams witnesses her fink father being gunned down, winds up in an orphanage. As an adult, her troubled past means she's unemployable, then she foolishly takes a hit-and-run rap for her feckless boyfriend. But Rita's not into self-pity and, on being released from prison, she embarks on a campaign of revenge against society and becomes the Queen of Crime.
John Cassavetes was hired to direct this film half-way through at the behest of his friend Peter Falk; but Cassavetes couldn’t save this comic version of Double Indemnity.