Films from 30’s to 60’s

COMPARTIMENT TUEURS (1965)

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A film by Costa-Gavras

Cast: Catherine Allégret, Jacques Perrin, Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant

English tile : The sleeping car murder

Six people share a sleeping-car on a Paris-bound train. When it reaches its destination, one of them is found murdered. As the police headed by Inspector Graziani (Yves Montand) frantically search for the killer soon after an other murder happens ,no!!! this can’t happen in Paris. It is the work of a serial killer? Or not. Well….

The thing is here is an other one of Gravas film that kick ass, it is his first film feature . It is in black and white  and shot in Paris so cool. It is fun to watch those old film I get to see how Paris was back in the day plus I love the old cars. Gravas here has done a cool thriller frantic that moves quickly. But it is not your typical stylist thriller here it has been done differently , plus you will see a car chase with motorcycle throughout  Paris. Michel Piccoli plays this unusual dude who is a little pervert sweaty and talking to himself. Yves Montand who plays the inspector does it with finest bit like a French Columbo. Simone Signoret does an outstanding job here. The director uses effective camera angles that create a sense of claustrophobia during suspense scenes. The appearance go the killer has his own style trench coat, hat, and lather gloves. Once the killer  shoot ,he repeatedly does it until the victim is dead which the killer taking sufficiently long pauses in-between shots to allow for the frightened victims to struggle around and stare in terror at their assassin. Here Catherine Allégret and Jacques Perrin plays young lovers and yes their chemistry are fresh as a croissant from the oven. There a cool non stylist film noir.

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BLONDE ICE (1948)

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A film by Jack Bernhard

Cast: Robert Paige, Leslie Brooks, Russ Vincent

Here is a little jewel from the B-Series film noir that came out in 1948. It was lost and suddenly remastered and sold on DVD. Terrific film here where actually the actor knew how to act even in a B-Series film and became a cult classic.

Leslie Brooks is well cast as Claire, who happily goes about marrying rich men so that she can kill them, get their money, and move on to her next victim. Simple story right but back then this kind of film was not done until now. They should call her Black window but the title here stick she is cold as ice. She will stop at nothing to get what she want. Killing is her thing but the man has to be rich. Leslie brooks delivers this intense role for her character and yes ice is running down her veins. One thing is for sure do not be blindsided by her love or you will pay for it. It is a terrific film noir here that should be watch as one said to me when it is misty, cloudy outside while drinking whiskey.

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OUT OF THE PAST (1947)

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A film by Jacques Tourneur

Cast: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas

Out of the Past (1947) is one of the greatest of all film noir, the story of a man who tries to break with his past and his weakness and start over again in a town, with a new job and a new girl. Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, whose name was Jeff Markham when he was working as a private eye out of New York. He was hired by a gangster named Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas, electrifying in an early role) to track down a woman named Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) the sexy woman. Kathie shot Sterling four times, hitting him once, and supposedly left with $40,000 of his money. Sterling wants Jeff to bring her back. It’s not, he says, that he wants revenge: “I just want her back. When you see her, you’ll understand better.”Great lines there.

The story is told in flashback. Here is a guy who is a sucker and blind romantically. He is drawn to Kathie who by the way is deceiving from left to right. Kathy i is pure evil, a sensuous woman who will do anything to get her own way. What I like about it that she is so deceiving but yet uses her beauty so the sucker like Mitchum won’t see her coming. She played the femme fatal of the femme fatal here and beautifully well I might have.  Mitchum has made of making film noir have the greatest career of them all.  kirk Douglas here is shinning he was just starting at the time. No surprise that he became the actor that he became. Well if you have not seen it yet, see it now.

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THE SCAR (1948)

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A film by Steve Sekely

Cast: Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz

Also know as The hollow triumph, or the man who murder himself. Johnny Muller (Paul Henreid) possesses both street smarts and an education. Having served some prison time, he is about to become a productive member of society, (well sort of) where a desk job awaits him in LA. But Muller wants to go back to his old ways. He devised a plan to rob a Casino with his friends operated by Rocky Stansyck (Thomas Browne Henry) the toughest guy in town. After a narrow escape from the robbery, Muller finds himself looking over his shoulder. Muller needs to disappear for good, and one day a dentist follows him once Muller finds out that he is followed he corners the dentist who looks like he saw a ghost. The dentist tells him……..Suddenly Muller has an idea to get rid of the gang that is after him.

It is a film that not too many people know about and it is a film noir at its purest form. Sekely did this film out of the major studio he went with the independent film. It looks like an art film where were little light was used even the stars face was poorly lit. Done in purpose of course he also played with the shadows as any film noir was done back then. This film contain an moment of recognition when the lead protagonist realizes everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. A hint pay attention tot the mirror scene here a stroke of genius. The film is constructed not like any other noir film Sekely has taken an original story here. Director of photography is John Alton need I say more. The scar was based on the novel by Murray Forbes, adapted for the screen by Daniel Fuchs. The thing is that you can get it on DVD or see it on TCM. Do not miss this one.

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THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932)

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A film by Charles Brabin

Cast: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morley

The Mask of Fu Manchu is the story of the discovery of Ghengis Khan’s tomb, where his legendary Mask and Sword are supposed to be hidden. British archaeologist Sir Lionel Barton (Lawrence Grant) has discovered the exact location, but he is kidnapped by Dr. Fu Manchu’s (Boris Karloff) criminal gang who want the power.Knowing this, Sir Nayland Smith (Lewis Stone) takes his own group of archaeologists and, along with Barton’s only daughter Sheila (Karen Morley) and her fiancée Terry (Charles Starrett), attempt to find Kahn’s tomb before Fu Manchu. But thing takes a turn.

This film is a little jewel I remember at least 30 years ago I saw it for the first time I thought here is a cool little film. I went to the library and saw it so I could not resist to see it again. The Mask of Fu Manchu was directed by Charles Brabin, a very experienced director of silent films. Tony Gaudio’s cinematography created one of the most stunningly looking pieces of science fiction of the 30s. The special effect were awesome back in the day. They had to make due with what they have and use their imagination to provide such cool effects. Myrna Loy is simply gorgeous as Fah Lo See. Legendary horror icon Boris Karloff as the role of Fu Manchu and takes the characters to a new level. It is an influential film many directors has said so. Take a look at the series of the Raiders of the Lost Arc. Fine performances here, plus the film is only can hour long worth seeing.

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LES ADVENTURES D’ARSÈNE LUPIN (1957)

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A film by Jacques Becker

Cast: Robert Lamoureux, Liselotte Pulver, O.E. Hasse

English: The adventure of Arsène Lupin 

Here is a Jaques Beker film: Arsène Lupin who is the suave gentlemen but a thieves well a burglar who is a modern day Robin Hood, he is also a friend of the rich I know ironic. He lives in a mansion in the country in France and has a wallet. He has many disguises which bring me to say that he is a connoisseur of fine art.

First I have to say that Robert Lamoureux is perfect for the role, mischievous, friendly, seductive, cunning, elegant, sparkling eye and very credible in the famous burglaries that have made the reputation of the famous Arsene Lupin. Of course the film is amusing as well as elegant, stylized, beautifully set and costumes.here he has any kind of relationship with women, and it is when he seems to fall for one that he is at his most vulnerable. He has no identity of his own, he goes by several names. The thing is with Lupin is that he is having fun at all time. It is a light comedy crime caper film sort of speak but I guaranty you that you will have a good time.

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A kind of loving (1962)

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A film by John Schlesinger

Cast: Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird

Director John Schlesinger’s gifted 1962 film is  adapted by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse from Stan Barstow’s popular novel. Alan Bates stars as Vic Brown, a British Northern draughtsman in a Manchester factory who sleeps with a co-worker, a typist called Ingrid Rothwell (June Ritchie). It does not progress as  love affair but when Ingrid is pregnant, they get married to make a go of it. The chaos soon follows them.

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Here is a terrific little film from the UK from the British New Wave Cinema that we know so little about. Also here Schlesinger manages to avoid the clichés  and brings a warmth and sly humour to his film. This film is a moving portrait of the bumps on the road in a relationship. Here are two people who did even fell in love well Vic anyway but when she gets pregnant, he marries her. Well back in the day that was the thing to do, even though in the US they get married because they say it is the right thing to do. I hate to break it to you but in France even Europe now days 2 out of 8 people will get married for the most part they live together. So when Vic marries her he found out that he lost his freedom, for a young lad losing his freedom is not what you want. He does not seems to understand that he has responsibilities. I think women settle in quicker than men in the relationship, men tend to take a little time to get used to it. Although The hormones of a man kicks in at an early age unless like the woman her sexuality will peak at 30 or some years. I know what the hell. Terrific performances here and a perfect adaptation from the novel. It is in black and white with some great cinematography to go with it. The pressure and the tension is rising in this film that you can cut it with a knife. it is a trilogy John Schlesinger has followed it up by Billy the liar and Darling which I will review soon. Trust me they are great films. I saw all three.

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