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(Charles Laughton, 1955; Arrow, 15)
One of the greatest, most influential directorial debuts in movie history, The Night of the Hunter was a major critical and commercial failure in 1955, and Charles Laughton never directed another film, which was bad for him, bad for us and bad for Norman Mailer, whose The Naked and the Dead was to be Laughton's follow-up project.
Based on Davis Grubb's gothic novel, it's a grim fairytale for adults set in poverty-stricken West Virginia during the depression and centres on a father going to the gallows for murder after concealing some stolen money in his little daughter's doll and swearing her brother to secrecy. An ogre in the form of a psychotic preacher (Robert Mitchum's best, most scary performance), who'd shared a cell with their father, is after the loot. When this monstrous figure of pure evil takes over the impoverished family, the children flee down the Ohio river, »
- Philip French
Directed by Orson Welles
After all the dust had settled and leaked blood had dried following the nightmare that was World War II, the Allied states co-organized a special commission for the purpose of investigating the details thought out by the sick minds of the Nazi regime who perpetrated the ghastly horrors in Europe. Tribunals were established shortly thereafter to convict the culprits, two English-language films having been the subject of said tribunals: the aptly titled Judgment at Nuremberg (the city where the prosecutions occurred) and its more recent remake, Nuremberg, which aired on television as a miniseries in 2000. History has also taught that several of the more slippery Nazi members attempted escape from their formerly secured bastion of terror and lay low elsewhere around the globe. Just because the war and their plans of exterminating a race »
- Edgar Chaput
This kaleidoscopic compilation of soundtracks by Bernard Herrmann scored for film, television and radio presents a feature-length overview of this incredibly unique composer's wide-ranging and distinctive style. Working with directors such as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese, during a career that spanned over forty years, Herrmann created scores of such innovative and emotional magnitude that notions of sound and music in cinema have never been the same. The breadth and scope of Herrmann's ingenious composing, arranging and orchestrating talent is on full display here, from the use of the theremin in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), to the all-string "black & white" sound for Psycho (1960), and the whistled main title of The Twisted Nerve (1968). Despite a well-charted, stormy history of personal and professional battles, Herrmann could work effortlessly in many musical idioms, seemingly without pause, whether it be within the Romanticism of Jane Eyre (1943) and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir »
- Paul Clipson
Lyon — Audiences attending the Grand Lyon Film Festival at the Institut Lumiere this week got a look at something that has been unseen by moviegoers for the better part of a century: an alternate version of Buster Keaton’s 1922 two-reeler “The Blacksmith.”
As first reported here in July, the noted Argentinian film collector and historian Fernando Martin Pena discovered the film, containing 5-6 minutes of different and previously undocumented scenes, in a collection of 9.5mm film prints purchased on eBay by his friend and fellow collector Fabio Manes.
That was just the beginning, however, of what has evolved into a fascinating film-preservation detective story. Shortly after making his discovery, Pena reached out to French archivist and restoration expert Serge Bromberg, whose Lobster Films has brought hundreds of works of early cinema back from the brink of extinction. Bromberg in turn began searching for a 35mm copy of “The Blacksmith” that »
- Scott Foundas
Written and directed by Orson Welles
Long before the likes of Brangelina dominated the Hollywood gossip columns, figures such as Hedda Hooper and Louella Parsons were the all-powerful industry matriarchs whose withering wit could make or break film careers. The tumultuous romance between Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth on the set of The Lady from Shanghai, which has received a BFI funded restoration for this year’s London Film Festival, was the fodder of scandal-drenched periodicals around the globe in those postwar years. The main difference between Shanghai and something like 2005′s Mr. & Mrs. Smith is that the former film endures as a curious classic beyond the fading celebrity chatter, with subsequent analysis identifying the movie as either Welles’ strychnine-poisoned valentine to Hayworth or a gloomy paean to a remorse-fueled marriage. Either way, it’s a curiously ambivalent and fractured piece that inverts and perverts the traditional trappings of noir, »
Films are almost always shot in an extended fashion, before they’re reduced and cut down to a final, coherently-constructed work. That’s what the public get to see. At times, though, you’ll find huge differences between the studio and preview versions of a film – and then, of course, there are “Director’s Cut” versions, too, which tend to emerge in the aftermath of a dividing theatrical cut.
In certain instances, studio executives get so involved in the editing process, that they end up destroying a film with their incessant meddling. Their aim? To make a movie as commercially appealing as possible – as was infamously the case with both Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons and Von Stroheim’s Greed.
Other times, scenes are cut because they leave loopholes, aren’t imperative to the overall storyline, or because they are deemed too graphic or politically controversial for public audiences. These cuts »
- Josh Cornell
The second directorial feature effort of Orson Welles’ then young career, watching The Magnificent Ambersons now is a rather troubling experience as while the genius and overwhelming force of personality of the man is all over the film, so is that most depressing of complaints of the master director: that of the fight for creative control and final cut.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Welles had the world at his feet after Citizen Kane but this wasn’t neccesarilly the case. While its commonly held as “The Greatest Film Ever Made”, the film wasn’t universally acclaimed upon release and indeed didn’t sweep the board at the Oscars, losing Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley (always a good one to remember for pub quiz questions) and being booed whenever its name was mentioned thanks to Welles’ personality and the work against the film by William Randolph Hearst, »
- Ian Loring
It says a lot about Philip French that after 50 years as the Observer's film critic – five decades in which he has watched more than 2,500 movies, written six books on the subject and received an OBE for his services to film – he is nervous enough about this interview to have researched his answers in advance.
When I arrive at his house in Tufnell Park, north London, I find French poring over a thick reference book at the kitchen table. A cup of coffee is left to cool as he thumbs through the relevant footnotes, anxious to get the facts absolutely right. He will turn 80 in a couple of weeks and says that he occasionally struggles to remember names of directors or actors. »
- Elizabeth Day
It's one of the cinema's holy grail movies, but unlike the excised ending of "The Magnificent Ambersons," everyone knows where Jerry Lewis' "The Day The Clown Cried" is located. He's got the only copy of it, sitting in a vault somewhere and he's determined to ensure that no one ever gets a chance to view the whole thing. As always, there's hope, and last week a bounty of footage made its way online in the form of seven-minutes of material from part of a Dutch TV special about the making of about the making of the Holocaust movie. It was the biggest peek anyone has ever gotten of the movie to date and Lewis has largely been reluctant to talk about it in interviews. But some vintage Lewis has also surfaced, this time with the comedy legend talking extensively about the movie. Chris Nashawaty has the goods over at EW and as he explains, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Some mysteries just get juicier with age. At least, that’s how it felt on Aug. 10, when a seven-minute clip from an old Dutch TV documentary about the making of Jerry Lewis’ 1972 “lost” film, The Day the Clown Cried, was posted on YouTube by someone calling himself “Unclesporkums.” Back in 2009, I interviewed Lewis in his Las Vegas office about his career and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award he was slated to receive at that year’s Oscar telecast. The star, then 82, was gracious and chatty. That is, until I asked him about The Day the Clown Cried, a never-released movie »
- Chris Nashawaty
When you hear a title like “The Leopard Man“, it likely conjures images of the Syfy Channel’s bevy of science fiction schlock like monstrous snakes fighting mega alligators, Sharknados, mythical beasts and half-human half-whatever hybrids. The name definitely doesn’t suggest a film as sophisticated and expertly crafted as The Leopard Man truly is–the sensational title merely serves to arouse your interest and get you into the seats of the theater. Most directors wouldn’t have the ingenuity to avoid crafting a hokey literal vision of a title like that but Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton were going to prove otherwise.
In the 1930s, even with The Great Depression going on, Universal Studios began banking big on their first leg of monster pictures, the fantastical black and white nightmares provided much-needed escape from the real devastation of the times. Hollywood had gotten a wake up call after the »
- Josh Soriano
Great “auteur” filmmakers are known for having a style that carries throughout their films: Hitchcock had his trademark suspense, Godard has his knowing self-reflexivity, Romero has his zombies. These preferences unite the works in their filmography, but even master directors are susceptible to making bad films.
Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lacked the verve of his other efforts, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood was a definite misfire, and Wim Wenders’s The Million Dollar Hotel is just boring. This list is not about bad movies by good directors, rather it is a compilation of great films by great filmmakers that (for whatever reason) have been generally overlooked.
Without further ado, here is the list…
When your first picture is widely considered to be the greatest film of all time seventy years after its release, it can be difficult »
- Bryan Hickman
It isn't The Merchant Of Venice or the missing footage from The Magnificent Ambersons, but the discovery of an Orson Welles work thought lost for forty years is still cause for celebration. So it's great news that the silent short Too Much Johnson (stop sniggering at the back) has been unearthed and restored in Italy, in time for this year's silent film festival in Pordonone in October. It was thought that the only copy was destroyed in a fire at Welles' Madrid home in 1970, but he always insisted another copy still existed somewhere. He was right!Too Much Johnson was filmed in 1938, three years before Citizen Kane and in the same year as Welles' infamous War Of The Worlds radio broadcast. A pastiche slapstick comedy, it stars Joseph Cotten along with other members of Welles' Mercury Theatre troupe, and was intended to form part of a theatre production, from which it took its title. »
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall: From ‘To Have and Have Not’ to ‘Key Largo’ Humphrey Bogart (born on Christmas Day 1899, in New York City) is Turner Classic Movies’ first “Summer Under the Stars” star on Thursday, August 1, 2013. TCM will be showing several Bogart movies not made at Warner Bros., e.g., 20th Century Fox’s The Left Hand of God and Columbia’s In a Lonely Place, but nothing that the cable network hasn’t presented before. In other words, don’t expect anything along the lines of the 1934 crime drama Midnight or the 1931 Western A Holy Terror (assuming these two movies still exist). Now, the good news: No Casablanca — which was shown on Tuesday, as part of TCM’s Paul Henreid movie series. (See “Humphrey Bogart Movies — TCM schedule.) (Photo: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.) Of TCM’s Humphrey Bogart movies I’ve seen, »
- Andre Soares
If Cleopatra signalled the demise of Hollywood epics, Heaven's Gate ended the reign of the all-powerful director. Should these films' reputations be rescued? And has the film industry lost its kamikaze tendency?
Sexual intercourse must have been invented earlier in New York than in Yorkshire because all that Robert Benton could think about in 1963 was movies. One movie in particular. But it was not Hollywood's current grandest offering, Cleopatra, which Joseph L Mankiewicz directed for 20th Century Fox, with Elizabeth Taylor in the leading role. Benton was thinking about another love story – another portrayal of a woman loved by two very different men. The director was François Truffaut. The star was Jeanne Moreau. Benton saw Jules et Jim 12 times after it was released in the Us, and his obsession was crucial to what happened next.
"You cannot see a movie that often without beginning to notice certain things about structure and form and character, »
- Leo Robson
Okay, so I apparently need to make this much, much harder as Driver was able to post the correct answers to all 24 of the movie titles in my second "Guess the Movie Titles" game within less than an hour. Of course, it makes me happy less than upset as you all came together to figure it out, which is my intention, but I want it to take much longer than two hours... two weeks is more like it! That said, today I present the answers for anyone that missed them previously and if you'd like to guess without seeing the answers you can click here for the original post, just avoid looking at the reader guesses in the comments. I wasn't at all surprised #10 stumped a lot of you, but the fact #22 proved so tough was a lot of fun to watch, especially when Django wrote, "It strikes me as »
- Brad Brevet
We're almost done with these quickie surveys of my favorites and yours from decades past. Herewith the 1940s which I hesitated jotting down as there are more classics from this decade that I haven't seen than in arguably any other. If I keep waiting until I've watched everything it would never be posted. In truth, I need a project which forces me to fully deal with the gaps in my 40s viewing. A pleasurable project it would be, surely. But for now, off the top of my list-manic head....
Black Narcissus (1947)
01 The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
02 Casablanca (1943)
03 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
04 Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
05 Double Indemnity (1944)
06 Black Narcissus (1947)
07 Citizen Kane (1941)
08 Notorious (1946)
09 It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
10 Gilda (1946)
with apologies to other greats
Rope (1948), The Heiress »
- NATHANIEL R
Some films offer one an instant cheer-up and others speak to that gloom that we feel at certain ages and times. If I watch Pyaasa every afternoon, then Kagaz Ke Phool would be for each weekend since it envelopes this viewer into a sighing and sniveling wreck. The film is one of the rare cases where its trivia and history cloud the film as a whole due to its eerie significance in Dutt’s trajectory. You cannot talk of the film without looking at the overlap and meta-ness of the narrative’s role in Dutt’s filmmaking oeuvre. The film broke Guru Dutt’s heart with its commercial failure of which he never directed another film after, sticking to acting and writing for his other protégé’s projects Sahib, Bibi, aur Ghulam and Chaudvin Ka Chand.
The essential plot is similar to A Star is Born, with the rising heroine »
- Rumnique Nannar
Perhaps more than any other legendary filmmaker, Orson Welles' career is at least partially defined by the numerous shipwrecks his movies in the years after "Citizen Kane" endured. From the tragically lost ending to "The Magnificent Ambersons," the wildly recut "Touch Of Evil" and various incomplete, half started, partially realized features, the myth of the movies Welles never got to make grew almost as large as the man himself. Well, today brings with it a peek at yet another project that withered on the vine... In the early '80s, Welles mounted "The Dreamers," co-written by his future wife, Oja Kodar, with whom he collaborated on two screenplays based on the works of Karen Blixenx (the other being "Echoes," also unmade). Hal Ashby (!) financed the writing of the movie via his production company, but didn't continue backing the project once he read the script. Welles pal, and the guy »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Everybody knows that Easter weekend is all about the chocolate nests and the Mini-Eggs - and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, if that's your bag - but let's not forget the other crucial element of any long holiday weekend: movies on telly.
Whether you're in the mood for Jennifer Lawrence, animated dragons or well-oiled, scantily-clad Spartan warriors, we're confident that the Digital Spy Easter movie list has got something for everyone.
March 29, 7pm, Film4
John Hughes's slacker classic is the definition of perfect holiday viewing, following charismatic wise guy Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and his downtrodden, depressive best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) as they skive off school and spend a day living it up in downtown Chicago.
March 29, 10pm, More4
The Coen brothers' Best Picture-winning thriller is a hypnotically tense treat, featuring one of the most frightening villains ever committed »
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