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#21 Izo

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:47 PM

The Barbara Stanwyck Show: "The Miraculous Journey of Tadpole Chan" - ***1/2

What a nice little surprise this was. If all of Tourneur's episodes for The Barbara Stanwyck show are as good as this it'll come as a very pleasant surprise. "Night Call", Tourneur's episode for The Twilight Zone, proved that Tourneur never really lost his touch, he just lost his budgets and studio pull. I wasn't expecting much from this series, and this is the first episode I've watched. In fact, I admit that I skipped right ahead to the first Tourneur-directed episode on the DVD. The plot of this 26 minute-long show is simple enough, with only three characters, what looks to be stock footage for exterior shots, and simple, functional interiors. Stanwyck stars as Josephine Little, who lives in Hong Kong and does slightly less-than-shady import/export deals. One of her deals hits a snag and she goes to the US consulate to get the proper papers so she can ship her silk dresses and make her money. The agent for the consulate is the real star here, and Ralph Bellamy's performance in this role is the heart of the episode. The rest of the show ostensibly deals with trying to get a young Chinese boy - the title's Tadpole Chan - to his adoptive family in Pittsburgh. It's all well and good, but Tourneur's real interest in Dobson, Bellamy's immovable US agent, who simply will not fudge paperwork to make it possible for the boy to go. In case there's any interest in this obscure television episode directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, I won't go into further detail, but I will say that Bellamy's performance here is very emotionally satisfying - if more than a bit of a leap of logic - and, given the flatness of every character in the show, extremely economical. He really works wonders with nothing.

As for Tourneur, the direction here is pretty basic with far more close-ups than he usually uses, but they aren't distracting. One could point out a couple of major Tourneurian touches, such as the protagonist (Stanwyck's Ms. Little) having the least amount of narrative impact as any of the characters that appear in the episode or the entirety of the plot taking place essentially off-screen and told to us by Chan, who actually gives a nice little performance for a television child actor, and I don't intend that as the faint praise it sounds like. I find it difficult, however, to tell whether these come from the episode's writers or Tourneur himself. If the other episodes Tourneur directed for the series feature these traits, I'll assume they were his.

Make no mistake, this is all very lightweight stuff and entirely non-essential, but I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting to and now I'm very eager to dig into Tourneur's other Stanwyck Show episodes.

#22 Izo

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 10:47 AM

A very rare, unavailable on DVD (anywhere, from what I can tell) Jacques Tourneur western is playing on Monday, August 16 at 2:15 (1:15 central) on TCM. The film stars Virginia Mayo and Robert Stack, but other than that I don't know much about it. I'll definitely be catching it, as it's the only Tourneur western I've not seen, I believe.

#23 Izo

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 11:14 AM

I just added two new links, both from Chris Fujiwara (the authority on Tourneur's work). One is a re-examination of Stranger on Horseback, in which Fujiwara declares that it's one of Tourneur's best friends. The movie didn't leave much of an impression on me the first time I saw it, but after reading the article I'm anxious to see it again.

The other is a conversation on Tourneur by Pedro Costa and Fujiwara. Also excellent.

#24 Izo

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 06:40 PM

Berlin Express ****

I want to get my thoughts down on this one before I corrupt them by going back to reread the chapter in Fujiwara's book. This is a solid film noir with enough truly unique touches - and spectacularly inventive mise en cine choices - to make it stand out among the crowd. I am truly baffled as to why this very-worthy film wasn't paired with some other very good Warner Archive noir and released on the latest film noir set to give that set a nice, round ten films instead of eight. But I digress. The film is really excellent, if a bit heavy-handed and obvious. Each of the main characters, for example, represents one a separate WWII-active country. The movie takes place in Germany directly following WWII. In fact, most of the exteriors were shot on location and this makes for some truly great imagery of destroyed buildings. There is an unnecessary narration, with the tone of it falling somewhere between The Naked City and Kubrick's The Killing. I could see how it would potentially annoy some viewers, but I thought it was pretty harmless. In any case it didn't detract from the film at all. Robert Ryan's character is quite probably the only detectivesque noir hero who keeps a day job as a military nutritionist. All the performances here are solid without any standouts. What's really special in this film is Tourneur's really imaginative shot compositions and absurd touches that add to the films interest. In the final act a Nazi in full clown attire and make-up (an image that Tourneur would return to brilliantly in Night of the Demon's villain) features prominently. The film's denoument is unnecessarily long, but it also features some of the most gorgeous (and devastating) images in the film, and I personally couldn't do without it. Throughout the film, Tourneur skillfully employs really beautiful shots of mundane things. One that springs immediately to mind is a shot of a shadow-cloaked ladder that plays prominently in the plot. In the end, you have an excellent film with mediocre writing but imagery that you'll remember for quite some time. While most of Tourneur's narrative trademarks are largely absent, his visual style is at the peak of his career. Highly recommended.

#25 clydefro

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 09:20 PM

^ Yes, I'm also fond of Berlin Express, although I can't quite consider it to be film noir (though that's a discussion for another day and topic). I think it's probably best to enjoy the picture for what it has and does rather than its minor shortcomings. It is indeed very stylish, and I love seeing Robert Ryan as a regular good guy since he so often played terrible or disturbed or damaged men. With apologies to Out of the Past and the Lewtons, I might even go so far as to say that Berlin Express is the absolute best testament to Tourneur's mastery because of how much is wrong with the movie and, conversely, how much the direction adds to it.

You might know this lzo, but Pedro Costa's Casa de Lava (to be released by UK's Second Run in October) is an homage to I Walked with a Zombie. Going from his Blood, I'd guess Costa really liked the look of the Lewton pictures.

#26 Izo

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:51 PM

Re Costa: I didn't know that! Funny since I just added that link to his conversation yesterday. I've also read an un-sourced quote attributed to him about Tourneur that I really think is spot-on, but I haven't used it yet because I can't find the source.

With apologies to Out of the Past and the Lewtons, I might even go so far as to say that Berlin Express is the absolute best testament to Tourneur's mastery because of how much is wrong with the movie and, conversely, how much the direction adds to it.


Spot on! I was kind of getting at that, but you said it so much better than I. There is a lot wrong with the picture, but what Tourneur does with the style and look of nthe film is just so good as to make it really worthwhile, especially for a fan like me (or you, I assume). Honestly, with every film of his I see, even the minor works, I'm more and more impressed with what Tourneur did within the confines of genre. He is probably in my top three or five directors, I think.

My definition of noir tends to be broader than the die-hards, probably because I'm less knowledgeable. At least I can say that it's no less of a noir than many of the films in any of the WB noir boxes.

#27 Izo

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 02:11 PM

Just finished Great Day in the Morning (I'm hoping someone else Tivo'd this, as it was excellent). This will probably be pretty slapdash, but I want to get my thoughts down while they're still there.

Great Day in the Morning

In Jacques Tourneur's films, violence is never taken lightly. Even his westerns are atypically gentle and passive. Other than Great Day in the Morning, Canyon Passage is the closest in terms of violence, as it feature desperate characters acting in destructive, murderous ways, but in Tourneur's world violence always has consequences and is never made to seem exciting. This film is probably Tourneur's most violent - it threatens to burst out of every scene, and frequently does - but it never feels exploitative or unnecessary. I loved this movie, and it's a damn shame that Warner Bros. owns so many of these unreleased Tourneur films, as the best we can realistically hope for is a Archive bootleg disc of many of these very major works by this great, unheralded director.

When it comes to the visual style of his pictures, nothing was as important as lighting. Watch Tourneur's films very closely and you'll notice that virtually every scene he ever directed features a visible source of light on-camera with either very little or very unobtrusive artificial lighting. This is very unusual for classic Hollywood cinema (or even today, really), and along with Tourneur's insistence that his actors underplay every scene, it's probably his most important and influential trait. Great Day in the Morning more than any other of Tourneur's color films that I've seen features the director's absolute mastery of lighting. Long scenes take place in near-complete darkness simply because there is no realistic source of light in the scene. Oftentimes, as in the absolutely spellbinding final shot of the film - which if I ever get a DVD of, I'll create a screencap - huge portions of the frame are black and all we see is empty light creating a silhouette of the characters. It's visually striking, and absolutely appropriate for such a dark, hopeless film.

Robert Stack is excellent as Owen Pentecost, a southern character with a mysterious past and future - another very Tourneurian element - that cares only for himself. If the character seems to have an abrupt change of heart at a key moment in the film, one cannot be sure if he's even telling the truth or trying to save his own skin. He is a murderer, a gambler, a cheater, a thief, and he doesn't attempt to hide it. He is, in short, a completely unsympathetic character, the likes of which are very rarely seen in Hollywood films. He kills a man, and then adopts his son and teaches him to ride and shoot. He may or may not be in love with two women at any point of the film. That Robert Stack is so charismatic in such a ruthless role is either a testament to his acting ability or his natural charm. Either way, he's magnetic.

I'd rather not describe the plot of the film too much, instead I'll just say that I do believe it to be among Tourneur's most satisfying and very best films - though in all fairness subsequent viewings may or may not reveal flaws that I've missed, I only hope I get to see the film again at some point to say either way. Sometimes it seems like Jacques Tourneur was incapable of directing a truly bad film, even when given scripts with as many loose ends as this one.

#28 Izo

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 09:08 AM

Anne of the Indies available as Video on Demand.

Ew. Does anyone know anything about this crap?

#29 Izo

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 07:13 PM

I can't stop myself from watching more Tourneur. I also can't believe that I've spent so much time on this review, but I simply cannot pinpoint why I find this movie so damn unusual.

Appointment in Honduras

It's interesting that late in his career Jacques Tourneur once again worked with a Val Lewtonesque producer. In the early '50s, Benedict Bogeaus, who had previously produced a series of critically lauded, commercially unsuccessful films (among them Diary of a Chambermaid), chose instead to make a series of low-budget, overtly commercial adventure films. All but two of these were directed by Allan Dwan, including Escape to Burma, which shares a double-feature DVD from admirable company VCI with the Tourneur film. Don Siegel helmed the first of the "series", Count the Hours (unseen by me), and Jacques Tourneur did the second: Appointment in Honduras. I've only seen the two films on the VCI DVD, but I find them both really fascinating as relics of '50s skid row production company that we hear about but rarely get the chance to actually see. I'm reminded of Tim Burton's Ed Wood or the Coens' Barton Fink, which both featured film producers who in all reality were probably a lot like Bogeaus, and this is the kind of movie that those fictional producers would have made. That the films themselves are completely entertaining in a Saturday matinee sort of way is just icing on the cake.

This is the second time I've watched this film, and it obviously has a lot of problems, mostly due to budget. The jungle is (mostly) obviously studio-bound sets. The special effects are completely laughable, but they're also sometimes endearing in a naive sort of way, like when the "tiger fish" eat a crocodile in a matter of seconds, and the crocodile's skeleton is pulled out of the water. Other times, they're just plain bad: the insect attacks that happen twice in the plot look to be dots superimposed onto the film. The film casts either anonymous actors (I smiled when Jack Elam made his first appearance) or those whose careers were on the wane. Ann Sheridan is particularly bad in her role. On the other hand, Glenn Ford was never a great actor but was sometimes used effectively, and is here.

The good balances the bad, though. The script is absolutely solid, and I suspect that Tourneur had more than a hand in adding the immense amount of ambiguity that is found in it. The film is almost a displaced western, indeed if you substitute most of the "jungle" terms for western ones, you could have a Budd Boetticher-style low-budget existentialist western, I don't even think you'd need to change most of the dialogue. Like in Boetticher's best films, we never find out the motives of any of the characters, and as the film progresses it becomes clear that Tourneur is emphasizing the meaninglessness of their motivations. About halfway through the film, the movie almost ceases to have a plot at all. And it's only then that I realized that for the entire run of the picture emotions have been muted to the point of silence. Even the love story subplot feels oddly detached. Even with the film's obsession with death - its inevitability, its causes, and its suddenness - the tone of the picture is pitched at an unwavering levelness.

The reason I find this obviously minor film in the filmography of a great director so compelling is that it, like Wichita, another ambitionless Tourneur film that I admire greatly (it's far better than this one, but that should be obvious) is that it's kind of perfect. I don't think any director could have this story, this cast, these sets, and this budget and have made a better film than this one. If I were forced to give any sort of rating for this film, I'd be at a complete loss. On one hand, it's obvious deficiencies and B-movie sensibilities make me hesitate to recommend this film, and yet I can't help but enjoy it. It's a very unusual, unique sort of movie. I only hope that I've made this sound interesting to those who would like this sort of thing.

#30 Izo

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 06:27 PM

I made a friend ask the "Warner Archive Collection" a question on Facebook for me:

Any chance we'll see more Jacques Tourneur in the near future? Specifically, I'm hoping for Great Day in the Morning and Stars in My Crown. Do you own the rights to Way of the Gaucho or Anne of the Indies?

WAC: We hope to have STARS ready shortly. GREAT DAY needs a new 16x9 master. We hope to get going on that soon. The other 2 pictures are not part of our library.


Good news for Stars on My Crown at least, I suppose. Well, better than nothing I mean. Fox apparently owns Anne of the Indies and Way of the Gaucho, so who knows how long the wait for those will be. I'm particularly desperate for the latter.

It's overpriced and produces a product of questionable quality, but the Warner Archive program's made an extraordinary number of films available that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day.

#31 clydefro

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:12 AM

Here's my review of Berlin Express (specifically the UK Odeon DVD).

#32 Izo

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 01:16 PM

Added it to the links section.

Additionally, for those who haven't seen Tourneur's horror masterpieces, TCM is playing four of them this month. I wholeheartedly recommend all four, but my two favorites are the double feature they're playing on Oct. 29th.

Friday, Oct. 29:

4:45 PM I Walked With a Zombie
6:00 PM Curse of the Demon

Sunday, Oct. 31:

2:00 AM Cat People
5:00 AM The Leopard Man

#33 Izo

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 05:39 PM

My, "Hey Master, I can do 1000+ word review, too!" review. Feedback greatly appreciated, I'm still figuring this out.

I Walked With a Zombie

Producer Val Lewton started with titles. They were not his titles, but they were given to him by RKO and he had to make movies out of them. This is how films like Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, The Leopard Man, and I Walked With a Zombie began. The pictures that resulted from these ridiculous horror comic-book titles could not have been at all what RKO had expected. One wonders if the studio heads that viewed Lewton’s films even realized the gold that they were given at the time. I somehow doubt it. The Val Lewton pictures were made in quick succession, oftentimes production on one would start before the last was actually released in theaters. Remarkably, the three masterpieces that Jacques Tourneur directed for Lewton, Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and The Leopard Man were released within six months of each other: December 25, 1943 and March 17 and May 8, 1944, respectively. Lewton had very little money to work with, sets from his films were often borrowed from other, higher budgeted RKO pictures. The furniture and staircase in the apartment in Cat People famously came from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons. Yet even with these budgetary restrictions, Lewton, through resourcefulness, intelligent writing, and by hiring good directors, produced a handful of horror films that stand up to the very best that the genre has to offer.

Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With a Zombie begins with an apology for its title. While the opening credits roll, we see a shot that belongs nowhere in the film’s narrative: a woman walking on the beach with a tall man, presumably the “zombie” of the film’s title, though narratively speaking, the only walking with zombies that occurs in the film takes place with two women. Over this abstract, displaced image - actually right after the director’s credit fades away - is the voice of the film’s main character Betsy: “I walked with a zombie,” - here she chuckles a bit - “It does seem an odd thing to say.” The film’s screenwriters, Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray, were wise enough to acknowledge the inherent silliness of the movie’s title so that they could get the expectations that it brings with out of the way and move on with the far more interesting plot, which is more or less a bastardization of Jane Eyre through a Caribbean voodoo filter.

The film clocks in at under 69 minutes, and yet unlike many or most B-movies of its time it never feels rushed. If one watches even the best Universal horror films of the time you can almost get whiplash from the way the plot whips by you at a breakneck speed. However, while I Walked With a Zombie doesn’t have a single wasted shot or scene without purpose, it moves at an almost fluid pace. Indeed, the film begins with its feet firmly planted in reality and becomes increasingly dreamlike as it progresses. By the end of the film, scenes become almost abstract short films, completely independent of the scenes that precede or follow it.

Most directors use atmosphere as a means of communicating tone and in service to the plot. In Tourneur’s cinema, atmosphere is first and foremost, and everything else has to maintain a relationship to it. This isn't a gothic sort of atmosphere that you'd find in, say, a Mario Bava film, though, it's something less easy to identify, more elusive. Consistently, through all of Tourneur’s work, you’ll find actors delivering lines with less emotion, saying things quieter. This is a stark contrast to the normal film-acting style of the time, and it’s entirely likely that this is Tourneur’s most influential trait.

It’s nearly impossible to discuss the film without talking about the portrayal of black characters in the film. Aside from the generally clueless and easily-controlled Betsy, you would be hard pressed to find a white character in the film that is not manipulative or drunk, or worse. The black characters, on the other hand, are all strong and intelligent. Even more surprisingly is the matter-of-fact way that voodoo is portrayed in the film. Rather than looking down on it as some sort of hedonistic hogwash, Tourneur simply allows us to watch the (staged, of course) rituals without casting judgment upon them. In fact, the lone person who tries to warn Betsy about the potential evils she faces is black: the man singing in the café. It’s a simple part, only appearing in the one scene, but it’s vital to the film, informing (through song) both Betsy and the audience of the Rand families dark history. The character is one in a long line of minstrels and artists that appear in Tourneur’s films, from Hi Linnet in Canyon Passage to the troubadour in The Flame and the Arrow.

It needs stating that this film does not contain the sorts of zombies that you’d find in a George Romero film. In fact, if you’re expecting any sort of gore at all like you’d find in most post-Hammer horror movies I daresay you’ll be disappointed. No, instead this film’s closest brethren is Wes Craven’s excellent, underrated The Serpent and the Rainbow, with its more “fact-based” account of Haitian voodoo.

The film plays like a see-saw, with the “realistic” first half and the more ominous, abstract, dreamlike second half. The movie’s fulcrum takes place just over 30 minutes into the film in a bit of clever structural play that really points out the see-saw nature of the movie. In the scene, Betsy walks to a cliff overlooking the violent waves of the ocean as she admits to us and herself that she is in love with one of the brothers. Only upon repeat viewings does one come to the realization that every scene before this one has its feet firmly planted in reality, while every scene after this (including that iconic walk to the voodoo houmfort) feels less and less real until the ambiguous, haunting ending that raises more questions than it answers. By the end of the film, Betsy - and all the characters, really - seem to be sleepwalking, moving slowly and steadily toward their own inevitable death. In the end, we’re all zombies.

#34 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:06 PM

^ Enjoyable, covers some historical aspects while you give your opinion on issues. Sociopolitical issues are always fun to cover (what Jonathan Rosenbaum considers a must). Also always interesting to read comparisions to other works (as long as appropriate of course). Some critics consider that a critic's work details issues such as those I've just mentioned above to delinate between a critique and a review.

Notes, comments and some other blather:
"and by hiring good directed" should be "and by hiring a good director"
"any sort of gore at all like you’d find in most horror movies" maybe "any sort of gore at all like you’d find in most modern horror movies"
Never have to use "As I’ve said" or "It should be obvious" (what is obvious to a scholar/fan is not necessarily obvious to others; I've offended people in the past this way :D)
Never use contractions in long format (capsule reviews are fine) since you might want to publish it online later.
I could see you could easily add more if you discuss more of the second half (always a choice, since some don't like spoilers, but if you are doing an essay it can be fun to go over every little detail).
What nationality is the word houmfort from? dictionary.com is not picking it up.

I tend to rewrite my stuff till I get sick of it and then post :D. This is why I only do a long review every couple of months :D
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#35 Izo

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:21 PM

Thanks for the feedback!

Fixed the stupid grammatical errors and stuff, added a couple sentences.

I could go on and on about the film, really, and I could easily go scene by scene. I intentionally tried to avoid discussing the plot to any great length, since it's something that generally annoys me with critics and this is a film I really want people to see fresh. Mostly I got sick of writing.

Not sure where houmfort comes from, but it's the word used in the film for the voodoo "church". It's how it's spelled in the subtitles as well.

#36 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:24 PM

...I could go on and on about the film, really, and I could easily go scene by scene. I intentionally tried to avoid discussing the plot to any great length, since it's something that generally annoys me with critics and this is a film I really want people to see fresh. Mostly I got sick of writing.
...


I agree with that. When you want someone to see for the first time what you are writing about I do the same thing and try never to spoil anything especially in the latter half of the movie.
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

Previous Editions: 2,
Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

“Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine you call coffee.” – The Tick

My HK movie reviews
My Amazon Reviews

#37 clydefro

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 11:44 PM

I watched your Canyon Passage lzo. Nothing elaborate to discuss at the moment. I did like it. It's perhaps the opposite of Wichita which, as I've said, has such limited aspirations and room for analysis. Canyon Passage instead almost has trouble fitting everything into its frame. Lots going on, ripe for repeat viewings where you can forgive any lack of explication and amount of withholding. I actually like Dana Andrews a lot. Tourneur also used him well in Night of the Demon, and my favorite underrated Preminger Daisy Kenyon has an interesting spin by the actor. Susan Hayward was a red-headed goddess and it was great to see her in Technicolor. The other performance I really liked was the woman with the bangs that Donlevy was in love with; I believe that was the infamous Rose Hobart playing the part.

#38 Izo

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 10:34 AM

The first time I saw the film I knew I liked it, even if I didn't know what to make of it. I had to watch it probably two or three more times before I could figure out just what it was that kept me so engaged. Like you said, it's the opposite of Wichita in a lot of ways, most notably being the fact that there really is endless room for interpretation and analysis.

#39 Izo

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:40 PM

Added it to the links section.

Additionally, for those who haven't seen Tourneur's horror masterpieces, TCM is playing four of them this month. I wholeheartedly recommend all four, but my two favorites are the double feature they're playing on Oct. 29th.

Friday, Oct. 29:

4:45 PM I Walked With a Zombie
6:00 PM Curse of the Demon

Sunday, Oct. 31:

2:00 AM Cat People
5:00 AM The Leopard Man


D'oh! Meant to throw up a reminder here. Curse of the Demon just ended, and hopefully someone caught it?

#40 Izo

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 07:37 PM

Experiment Perilous

An excellent "period noir" (not my term) that deserves more of an audience. It's often compared to Cukor's great film Gaslight, with Angela Lansbury and Ingrid Bergman, and indeed most of the reviews I've been able to find criticize the performances because they lack the overwhelming star power of that film. I disagree, as the tone and performances in this subtle, understated film would be ill-served by distracting stars.


I haven't time for a proper review, so here's a better one than I would write from Glenn Erickson. I agree with pretty much everything he says, and the review opens with an excellent little appreciation of Tourneur's subtle touch.

Edit: The above link and this Film Comment article are added to the first post.




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