Part two of Sergio Giral’s “Slavery Trilogy” is a portrait of Francisco Estevez, a bounty hunter who tracked down runaway slaves for the plantation owners of Cuba. He hatches an obsession for Melchora, the runaways’ legendary female leader, and the violent acts he commits in her pursuit appall even his white employers (1977).
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).
The Sea Hawk
2 hours 7 min • 1940
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Return of the Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe
French comic Pierre Richard is back as the gangly violinist who gets mixed up in a spy plot in this 1974 sequel to the 1972 hit. The French grind out these light, moderately entertaining, marginally incompetent comedies by the yard, though they’re hardly ever exported. If you’ve ever wondered what the flip side was to […]
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.
Illusion Travels by Streetcar AND The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz
Two features from Luis Buñuel’s “commercial” Mexican period. Illusion Travels by Streetcar (1953, 90 min.) is a surprisingly gentle folk comedy in which two streetcar conductors find that their car is going to be retired and take it out for a last run through the streets of Mexico City. The undoubted highlight is Buñuel’s interpretation […]
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 […]
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 […]