Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Aug 17th
One Body Too Many*    

(US 1944)                                    

An insurance salesman stumbles into a plot to kill the richest inheritor of a will from any one of a family of shady suspects.
Emulatory Cat and the Canary comedy horror with plenty of creaks, but an interesting cast and a droll central performance.

Written by: Winston Miller, Maxwell Shane.
Producers: William H. Pine, William C. Thomas.
Director: Frank McDonald.
Starring: Jack Haley, Jean Parker, Bela Lugosi, Dorothy Granger, Lyle Talbot, Lucien Littlefield, Douglas Fowley, Bernard Nedell, Fay Helm, Blanche Yorka, William Edmunds.
Photography: Fred Jackman Jnr.
Music: Alexander Laszlo.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Aug 8th 

(US 1915)    

Cigarette factory gypsy girl Carmen seduces an officer to aid her smuggler friends, but there are tragic consequences.
Early De Mille epic, compacting the popular opera into something quite scenic and accessible, although with his characteristic flair for melodrama, and rather dated now, but a big hit for its time.

Written by: William C. de Mille, based on the novel by Prosper Merimee.
Producer/Director: Cecil B. de Mille.
Starring: Geraldine Farrar, Wallace Reid, Pedro de Cordoba, Horace B. Carpenter, William Elmer.
Photography: Alvin Wyckoff.

Music: Georges Bizet (originally arranged by Hugo Riesenfeld).

Preceded by:
Max Speaks English**
(L'anglais tel que Max le Parle)
(Fra 1914. 10m. bw. silent; w, d: Max Linder; s: Max Linder, Cecile Guyon.)

MAX SPEAKS ENGLISH (1914). The pre-war charms of Max Linder, one of the first genuine comedy stars who largely influenced Chaplin, who was soon to overtake him. The surprisingly effective English looking girl he is trying to communicate with is Cecile Guyon.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jul 30th
The BFG** (PG)
(Vue Romford)  

(US 2016)                          

An orphaned girl spots a benevolent giant late at night who therefore abducts her back to Giantland where she helps him overcome the nastier inhabitants.
Initially enchanting and expansively crafted Spielberg adaptation of Dahl, which however sags in the middle, and the focus shifts not entirely smoothly back to London, although much more inventively so than the similarly themed Hook, and with engaging performances throughout.

Written by: Melissa Mathison, from the novel by Roald Dahl.
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Rudy Barnhill, Jemaine Clement, Penelope Wilton (as the Queen), Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall.
Photogaphy: Janusz Kaminski.
Music: John Williams.
Production Design: Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg.
Visual Effects Coordinator: Kimberley Aller.

Leonard Maltin review

THE BFG. Mark Rylance as a splendidly Suffolk-accented "Big Friendly Giant", with Rudy Barnhill the latest in a long line of excellent Spielberg child actors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jul 19th   

(Ita 1913 - released 1914)

In the 3rd century BC, nobleman's daughter Cabiria is presumed dead after the eruption of Mount Etna, but is abducted and taken to the city of Carthage and eventually rescued by two Roman spies.
The cinema's first historical epic; after the first progressive few years of semi-mythical or Biblical stories, the Italian makers pull out all the stops in a lavish spectacular (that originally ran to over 3 hours, then a gargantuan length for a film.) What remains is still outstanding in its design and compellingly made, with enough emotional context in site of the epic narrative (the title character only makes occasional appearances in the story) and, thanks to respectful restorations, well preserved. As an epic it became the blueprint that America and others were soon to adopt.

Written by: Gabriele d'Annuzio, Giovanni Pastrone.
Producer/Director: Giovanni Pastrone.
Starring (in no particular order): Umberto Mozzato, Barolomeo Pagano, Lidia Quaranta (as Cabiria), Carolina Catena (Cabiria as a girl), Gina Marangoni, Italia Almorante-Manzini, Dante Testa, Enrico Gemelli (as Archimedes), Raffaele di Napoli, and others.
Photography: Augusta Battagliotti, Eugenio Bava, Natale Chiusano, Segundo de Chomon, Carlo Franzeri, Giovanni Tonatis.

Music: Manlio Mazza (performed by Jacques Gauthier).

CABIRIA. The spectacular entrance to the Temple of Moloch in Carthage.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Jul 16th
Attack the Block*

(GB/Fra 2011)

South London teenage street gangs confront an alien invasion after one of them has killed the female.
Unpleasant but undeniably stylised and starkly well photographed nightbound street drama sci-fi, with an underlying element of tongue-in-cheek.

Written and Directed by: Joe Cornish.
Producers: Nira Park, James Wilson.
Starring: John Boyega (whose acting career began here), Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost, Jurmayn Hunter, Alex Esmail, Franz Dremah, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway.
Photography: Tom Townend.
Music: Basement Jaxx, Steven Price.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Jul 14th  
Fantomas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine*
(Fra 1913)  

The stealing of a princess's valuable necklace and the escape from execution at the guillotine are the work of a cunning gentleman thief known as Fantomas.
Drawn-out as a detective thriller narrative with most of the plot twists telegraphed, but given the context for its time a thrilling mystery which proved a big smash in France, and was also the first of a serial.

Written and Directed by: Louis Feuillade, based on stories by Marcel Allain, Pierre Souvestre.
Producer: Romeo Bosetti.
Starring: Rene Navarre, Edmund Brecon, Renee Carl, Georges Melchior.
Photography: Georges Guerin.

Preceded by:
The Musketeers of Pig Alley**
(US 1912. 17m. bw. silent; A musician has his money stolen by gangsters, but they make it up to him when he retrieves the money and bales them out at the end of a gang fight. The first "gangster" film, so called, but more a characteristic Griffith melodrama with his emerging and exciting new dramatic style.; w: D.W. Griffith, Anita Loos; d: D.W. Griffith; s: Lillian Gish, Walter Miller, Elmer Booth, Alfred Paget, Harry Carey.)

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Jul 9th
The Strawberry Blonde** (U)
(National Film Theatre)

(US 1941)

A down-on-his-luck aspiring dentist loses out on the local beauty to his conniving friend and marries a headstrong nurse instead, but comes to realise in time that this wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Simple and charming evocation of turn of the 20th century New York (with the title derived from a hit song of the period), a romantic comedy vehicle for James Cagney - a genre that doesn't sit perfectly for him, but still with some characteristic tough guy flourishes, and generally a pleasing entertainment. Screened at the NFT in celebration of recent centenarian Olivia de Havilland.

Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, based on the play "One Sunday Afternoon" by James Hagan.
Producers: Hal B. Wallis, William Cagney.
Director: Raoul Walsh.
Starring: James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, George Tobias, Una O'Connor, George Reeves.
Photography: James Wong Hoe.
Music: Heinz Roemheld.