Thursday, January 24, 2019

Touchez pas au grisbi

1953, France, directed by Jacques Becker

One of the true marvels of the French gangster genre, with its own codes and conventions, quite different to the American counterparts -- impossible to imagine the wonderful scene of two men sharing a late-night sandwich, never mind the subsequent scene when they brush their teeth, in an American movie of the period. As magnetic as Gabin was in the pre-war years, he's rarely been as magnificent as on this occasion -- every moment he's offscreen you sense his influence, even with the wonderful supporting cast (Dary, Ventura, Moreau, Frankeur and more).

Deux hommes dans la ville

1973, France/Italy, directed by José Giovanni

The final film featuring both Gabin and Delon, with the older star ceding much of the running time to his younger, though already established, counterpart; indeed, Gabin is offscreen for a great deal of the film, which focuses on Delon's character, recently released from prison and attempting to go straight (Gabin plays his parole officer). Gabin is in peak avuncular mode, the éminence grise who has seen it all, though even then he doesn't have Delon's special line in world-weariness. The film is blunt on the impact of prison and the challenges of rehabilitation, though director José Giovanni had his own complex, up-close relationship to the institution of incarceration -- he willingly collaborated with the German occupation, and was involved in various gangland activities, ending up in prison for more than eleven years before beginning his second act as a novelist and filmmaker while carefully occluding the less savoury details of his past. While the film is ultimately less profound than Giovanni would like us to believe, some of the details on the French legal system are piquant, while Gérard Depardieu and Bernard Giraudeau make notable early appearances.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sudden Fear

1952, US, directed by David Miller

A film that I'd wanted to see after reading Farran Smith Nehme's very engaging appreciation in Film Comment, this did not disappoint, a noir with a deep vein of high-pitch melodrama. Joan Crawford is excellent in one of the strongest roles of her later career, reacting to the most alarming of circumstances and setting in motion a plot of her own, while she gets particularly good support from Jack Palance, so angular here that he looks like an actor as drawn by Picasso at times.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

That Brennan Girl

1946, US, directed by Alfred Santell

Watched after Farran Nehme wrote about this as part of a retrospective of Republic Pictures films. As the article suggests, the film is quite fascinating in its use of formal devices, to show the passage of time or to push the viewer to greater investment in the action, among other things. It's also very much of its 1946 moment, with a husband lost to the war, and if the conclusion ultimately seems a little too neat it's hard to deny the titular girl her moment in the sun.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Monkey Business

1931, US, directed by Norman Z. McLeod

Kicking off 2019 with the Marx Brothers on the big screen; the kids were alternately nonplussed (Groucho's breakneck speechifying, the creakier reference points) and delighted (every musical and slapstick moment, and a smattering of the verbal wit). With popcorn and soda thrown in, I think they were a good deal more pro than con.


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States