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The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Leslie Banks makes this film a creepy masterpiece
This is one of these fantastic early 1930's RKO 'horror' films that used to be shown on TV here in the UK late on Saturday nights when as a wee lad you could stay up and be slightly scared by the atmospheric creepiness inherent in these stagey old black and white thrillers.
In subsequent years I saw the film on tape at the end of some slighly inebraited evenings and it began to take on a another life as a friend and myself amused ourselves and irritated many others by reciting the Count's choice lines. Lines made all the more remarkable by Leslie Banks 'eccentric' accent which despite Zaroff supposedly hailing from Russia seemed to be some strange hybrid of Scottish Western Isles and Welsh!
"you must forgive Ivan, like most of my Countrymen he is a bit of a savage"
"I became expert in the use of the Tartare warbow"
"what I needed was not a new passion, but a new animal..."
"hunt first the animal, then the woman..."
All delivered in a breezy, coversational style that was genuinely scary.
Add to this Fay Wray's screaming Damsel in distress, Robert Armstrong's turn as the pickled (in more ways than one!) brother and Joel McRea's very 1930's clean cut hero, and Zaroff's menacing servants, you've got one of the most entertaining 65 minutes in screen history.
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Classic Bogart, classic script, classic noir
This is one of my all time favourite films, and (alongside the obvious - Casablanca, Maltese Falcon etc) my favourite Bogart.
The script is smart, witty and cynical, just like a typical Bogart character. But in this film Bogart plays probably his darkest character.
In some of the scenes with Gloria Graeme he's at his smooth, wisecracking, slightly irritable best, but in the moments where the anger and the fog of despair descends he is a more threatening character than in any of his other leading man roles.
The cynical, darker aspects of this film just go to highlight how few contemporary films are prepared to be so bleak.
Despite the fact that the plot is ostensibly a 'did he do it?' crime story, this is largely inconsequential to the psychological character and relationship study that is the central concern of the film.
If you like a cracking script with sharp performances, with all kinds of deep psychological observations on love and loneliness to be read into it, in the best noir tradition, this is the film for you.
Cisco Pike (1972)
An overlooked classic
Somebody please bring this out on DVD, because I'm desperate to own a copy so I can watch it whenever I feel like it. It's rarely seen and it's a fantastic piece of 1970's cinema.
Strong, realistic, natural performances from Kris and Harry Dean, stacks of great cameos including the might Antonio Fargas. Fantastically evocative and one of the few occasions when Kristofferson's great presence and offscreen persona have been used to good effect in front of the camera.
If you love 1970's American films (and if you have any feeling for movies at all, you have to love this period), then this is up there with the best.
If you have a chance to see it, take it.