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Archive for April 12th, 2011

Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Producer: James Hill

Screenwriters: Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman

Cinematographer: James Wong Howe

Music: Elmer Bernstein

Studio: United Artists 1957

Main Acting: Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis

Film Noir has many merits and virtues in its long dark corner. One is the showcasing of Los Angeles as it lived and breathed in the 40s and 50s. Films like Crime Wave and Sunset Boulevard give us more than a glimpse into how the city looked and felt all those years ago. Since Hollywood is situated on the west coast, it is only natural that the urban sprawl of that area is mostly showcased when technicians and artists took to the streets to do location work. California gets ample time in the cinematic spotlight, or to be more accurate, stylized darkness. As a New Yorker myself, Sweet Smell Of Success is the greatest example of the Big Apple receiving the classic-era noir gaze for me. I get to see my familiar dwellings and haunts placed in a time before I existed. Photographed by cinematographer extraordinaire James Wong Howe, Sweet Smell Of Success is a richly elegant pictorial movie. It is vitalized by its urban environment and made even greater by the dramatic heft of the script. While The Naked City by Jules Dassin also incorporated Manhattan’s rich skyline and urban expanse, the rather rote story prevented me from embracing it beyond the stellar imagery. Mackendrick’s feature hits it out of the park—Yankee Stadium to be specific—on every count and temporarily revitalizes a dying genre before it would dissolve into the black one or two years later. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1956 113m) DVD2 (France only, no Eng subs)

Aka. Voici le temps des assassins

Like mother like daughter

p  Georges Agiman  d  Julien Duvivier  w  Julien Duvivier, Charles Dorat, Maurice Bessy, Pierre-Aristide Bréal  ph  Armand Thirard  ed  Martha Poncin  m  Jean Wiener  art  Robert Gys

Jean Gabin (André Chatelin), Danièle Delorme (Catherine), Robert Arnoux (Bouvier), Liliane Bert (Antoinette), Lucienne Bogaert (Gabrielle), Gérard Blain (Gérard Delacroix), Gabrielle Fontan (Madame Jules), Germaine Kerjean (Madame Chatelin), Robert Manuel (Mario Bonnacrosi), Jean-Paul Roussilon (Amédée), Olga Valéry (la Duchesse),

There was a time when Julien Duvivier was respected, admired by the likes of Jean Renoir at home and other masters abroad; the Duvivier who gave us Poil de Carotte, La Belle Équipe, Pépé le Moko, Un Carnet de Bal and La Fin du Jour.  Somewhere, though, it all went wrong.  An abortive trip to Hollywood didn’t help, but he came back and made the excellent Panique in 1946 and kept working for another fifteen years or so.  The culprits of the neglect were the auteurs of the nouvelle vague who decried the old-fashioned film-making of the likes of Becker, Autant-Lara, Bernard, Clair and Duvivier.  It’s true Duvivier wasn’t one of the innovators like a Gance or a Godard, a visionary like a Bresson or a Rivette, or a capturer of the mood of a given period – both of setting and making – like a Carné or Renoir.  He was old-fashioned, yes, but if so, fashion be damned.  He was the sort of film-maker we can afford to get nostalgic about.

            Deadlier Than the Male isn’t listed in any major film reference book in English.  Indeed even in France it was neglected by everyone; not even a place for it in Sadoul’s Dictionary of Film.  It’s one of those cases where one can hardly blame the often culpable René Château for not putting English subs on the DVD, because hardly anyone in the English speaking world will have heard of the film, let alone want to buy it.  It’s an offence really, so let’s put the record straight. (more…)

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