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Archive for March 15th, 2011

Director: Robert Siodmak

Producer: Dore Schary

Screenwriter: Mel Dinelli

Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca

Music: Roy Webb

Studio: RKO 1946

Main Acting: Dorothy MacGuire and George Brent

Maybe the finest example of the kind of film that is best viewed late at night with a dark thunderstorm raging outside. The Spiral Staircase is not exactly a pure noir, but happens to successfully merge many of the hallmarks of the genre with that of the gothic melodrama and the old spooky house story. Robert Siodmak, who directed the picture, is definitely best known for making a clutch of film noirs during his 40-something-year-long career. Perhaps this tidbit of information leads me to consider this more of a film noir than horror. Nevertheless, comparing The Spiral Staircase with the Siodmak movies made precisely before and after, it seems to support my idea that it is a continuation visually and style-wise of what the director was focusing on and concerned with at this point in his profession. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1944 105m) not on DVD

Aka. The Sky is Yours

Wandering in the sky

p  Raoul Ploquin  d  Jean Grémillon  w  Charles Spaak, Albert Valentin  ph  Roger Arrignon, Louis Page  ed  Louisette Hautecoeur  m  Roland Manuel  art  Max Douy

Charles Vanel (Pierre Gauthier), Madeleine Renaud (Thérèse Gauthier), Jean Debucourt (Larcher), Raymonde Vernay (Madame Brissard), Léonce Corne (Dr Maulette), Raoul Marco (Noblet), Robert le Fort (Robert), Anne-Marie Lebaye (Jacqueline),

Jean Grémillon’s career is one that, much like the modern counterparts of the planes seen here, slipped under the radar.  In France he was well known, fêted in some quarters, but his films rarely got the exposure they deserve outside of France.  Perhaps his making films during the Vichy occupation left a bitter taste, and Le Ciel est a Vous was seen as Petainist at the time, but it’s unfortunate, for here was a man who could, had the fates been different, have been mentioned in the same breath as Carné and Renoir.

            Ciel follows the story of the Gauthiers, Pierre and Thérèse, and their two children, who are forced to move from their garage to another garage in town as the land under theirs is needed for the development of a new aerodrome.  The aerodrome acts as a reminder to Pierre of his past, in the cockpits himself with the legendary Georges Guynemer in the Great War.  He survived, Guynemer of course didn’t, and the danger inherent in the then still fledgling science of aviation was still all too apparent.  Thérèse doesn’t want Pierre going up and getting too involved, but when she is taken up herself one day she gets the bug, and soon Pierre is building aircraft, mortgaging themselves up to the hilt, to achieve her dream of the longest solo flight by a woman. (more…)

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