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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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Lassiter

Tom Selleck tries again in a comedy-adventure about a professional jewel thief who is hired by Scotland Yard to intercept a shipment of Nazi diamonds. TV director Roger Young makes his theatrical debut; Jane Seymour, Lauren Hutton, Bob Hoskins, and Ed Lauter costar.

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Breaker Morant

An earnest problem drama, about three Australian soldiers who are court-martialed for brutality during the Boer War (1979, 107 min.). Bruce Beresford’s film was based on a successful stage play, and the theatrical structure is clear and rigid throughout. The film handles difficult issues of wartime morality, with clear parallels to the American experience in […]

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India Song

There’s so little to the subjects in Marguerite Duras’ films—here it’s that old favorite, doomed love among the rotting aristocracy—that it’s easy to think of her as the most perverse of minimalists. But Duras’ thin dramas are perceived through layers upon layers of style—she’s the Busby Berkeley of structuralism. In this 1974 film, she uses […]

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The Other Francisco

Sergio Giral’s 1975 Cuban film reproduces a 19th-century antislavery novel as its upper-class liberal author wrote it, then runs through the story again with Marxist revisions. It’s an interesting structural experiment, but the ideas are often better than the execution. 100 min.

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A Woman in Flames

A middle-class housewife (Gudrun Landgrebe) walks out on her possessive husband and finds freedom as a Berlin hooker; she falls in love with a male hustler (Mathieu Carriere) and for a while they share living and working quarters—until his own possessive instincts surface. Robert van Ackeren’s film is cool and distanced for most of its […]