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Operation Petticoat

A very funny pairing of Cary Grant and his ace protege Tony Curtis as two submarine officers (Grant older and wiser, Curtis young and ripe for deflating) with a cargo of women on their hands. Blake Edwards directs with his customary wit, breeziness, and acute sense of pacing (1959).

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48 HRS.

Nick Nolte as a surly, Neanderthal cop and Eddie Murphy as the fast-talking convict he springs to help him catch a pair of killers. This coupling of the physical and the verbal is one of director Walter Hill’s favorite ploys; if it doesn’t come off here quite as meaningfully as it does in Hill’s Southern […]

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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Light-years better than the television series it inspired, this charming, frothy comedy-romance (1947) involves a widow (Gene Tierney) who rents an old house and finds she’s gotten the ghost of its former owner (a salty sea captain marvelously embodied by Rex Harrison). Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz before his humor turned cold-blooded; adapted by Philip […]

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Gabriela

Brazilian sex bomb Sonia Braga reteams with director Bruno Barreto (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands) for the story of an unwashed peasant girl who becomes maid and then mistress to a bar owner (Marcello Mastroianni) in the Bahia of 1925. With Antonio Cantafora; based on a novel by Jorge Amado.

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I Was a Male War Bride

Howard Hawks’s darkest comedy (1949)—a loosely constructed, episodic film that traces the progressive humiliations suffered by Free French army captain Cary Grant. The logical culmination has him disguised as a WAC called Florence in a wig made from a horse’s tail. The atmosphere is perhaps the most oppressive of all Hawks’s films, with Grant up […]

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The Man With the Golden Arm

Otto Preminger’s 1955 adaptation of Nelson Algren’s novel is something of a crossroads movie, suspended between the swirling expressionism of Preminger’s early career and the balanced realism that would later become his forte. Frank Sinatra, as the drug-addicted poker dealer, plays a reasonably naturalistic character, but he’s surrounded by a collection of bizarre archetypes (Eleanor […]

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Black and White In Color

More on the absurdity of war, with some cute moments and a lot of ennui as a band of French colonists in Africa, belatedly learning that World War I is on, attack their German counterparts across the stream. Pretty tedious, and a sad waste of Catherine Rouvel, Renoir’s luminous vision of femininity in Picnic on […]

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Shchors

A rarely shown late effort by Alexander Dovzhenko, made in 1939 at the specific request of Stalin, who wanted a Ukrainian epic to pair with the Vassiliev brothers’ rousing Chapayev. The chosen hero was Nikolai Shchors, who commanded the Red Army in the Ukraine during the civil war. The results lack the lyrical intensity of […]

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And Then There Were None

Rene Clair, the French director (A nous la liberte, Le million) who spent the 30s in Hollywood, did a very workmanlike job with the classic Agatha Christie thriller about ten weekend guests on a secluded island who find themselves being murdered one by one. It was Clair’s last American film (1945) and it shows him […]

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The Prince and the Pauper

The Warner Brothers version of 1937, which solves the problems of trick photography by casting twins—Billy and Bobby Mauch—in the title roles. With Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Henry Stephenson, Barton MacLane, and Alan Hale; Warners workhorse William Keighley directed. 120 min.

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La Balance

Bob Swaim, an American-born director working in France, has crafted a superior policier from a blend of ragged realism and romantic archetypes. Petty criminal Philippe Leotard is persecuted by Parisian narc Richard Berry, who threatens to expose Leotard’s romance with a prostitute (Nathalie Baye)—a relationship forbidden by French law—unless Leotard informs on a major drug […]