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Night Train to Munich

Modern spy movies have nothing on this Brit thriller produced just as war broke out -- Rex Harrison, Margaret Lockwood and Paul Henried clash with Nazi agents, and risk a daring escape to Switzerland. The witty screenplay is by the writers of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and the director is Carol Reed, in terrific form. Night Train to Munich Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 523 1940 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 95 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date September, 2016 / Starring Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul von Hernried, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, James Harcourt, Felix Aylmer, Roland Culver, Raymond Huntley, Fritz (Frederick) Valk. Cinematography Otto Kanturek Film Editor R. E. Dearing Written by Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder story by Gordon Wellesley Produced by Edward Black Directed by Carol Reed

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Alfred Hitchcock's successful series of 1930s spy chase thrillers -- The Man Who Knew Too Much; The 39 Steps --
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Dead of Night

(Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945, Studiocanal, PG)

Portmanteau movies became an established form in 1916 when one of its greatest examples, Dw Griffith's Intolerance, interweaving four stories reaching from ancient Babylon to the early 20th century, was released. They've been appearing ever since, covering a variety of subjects (a shared author, a theme, a genre, a setting), the greatest number produced in the 1950s and 60s when it was a useful device for bringing international moviemakers together.

The greatest portmanteau film came from Ealing Studios and was a collaboration between four staff directors, one celebrated (the Brazilian-born Cavalcanti) and three soon to become well known. It took as its subject the British ghost story or tale of the supernatural, was written by a variety of hands, and went into production in that curious period between D-Day and the end of the last war, though there's no explicit reference to the war.
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Oam + 31 Days of Horror: Dead of Night

Dead of Night (1945) Synopsis: A group of six friends gathers together one afternoon in a cottage in the English country side.  Walter Craig (Mervyn Jones) shows up to consult with the owner about restoring the aging abode, but is taken about when he realizes he's met all the guests before - in a recurring dream.  He can't recall details of the dream, but he feels a terrible foreboding that it ends in horror.  His claims of clairvoyance spur a discussion amongst the group about the probability of the paranormal, with everyone, including the skeptical Dr. Van Straaten (Frederick Valk), recalling their own personal experiences with things they can't explain. Killer Scene: Seeing as Dead of Night is an anthology film made up of five separate stories within one larger framework, there are many memorable and sufficiently frightening images worth mentioning.  However, the sequence that stands head and shoulders above the rest has to be the film's climax
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