Some of these are pretty short… So much going on… Regardless, I hope you’ll find something of interest here:
When Strangers Marry (re-release title Betrayed) (1944)
Directed by William Castle
Produced by Frank King, Maurice King
Screenplay by Philip Yordan, Dennis J. Cooper
Story by George Moskov
Cinematography by Ira H. Morgan
Warner Archive DVD (1:07)
Millie Baxter (Kim Hunter) is an enormously naive woman who marries Paul (Dean Jagger), a man she’s known for a very short time. She also discovers that Paul may be a murderer. Seeking to discover the truth, Millie becomes sort of an “Alice in the Underworld” as she tries to track her husband down. Helping in the quest is Millie’s friend (and former boyfriend) Fred Graham (Robert Mitchum).
When Strangers Marry/Betrayed works quite well as a taut little noir thriller with several good scenes and some nice Val Lewton-like touches. It also contains a few misfires, such as a scene at a carnival that’s pretty heavy-handed and a missed opportunity to do something of substance at an all-black nightclub. But the cast is good and the direction generally works. Look for Neil Hamilton (who famously played Commissioner Gordon in the 60s TV series Batman) as a police lieutenant and Rhonda Fleming in her third screen appearance as a girl on a train.
Jug Face (2013)
Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Produced by Andrew van den Houten, Robert Tonino
Cinematography by Chris Heinrich
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:21)
Previously discussed here
The Yakuza (1974)
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Produced by Sydney Pollack, Michael Hamilburg, Koji Shundo
Written by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader, Robert Towne
Cinematography by Kôzô Okazaki
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:52)
(So here’s Mitchum again, 30 years after When Strangers Marry…)
The Yakuza is something of a point of convergence for several people, ideas, and historical events. First, it was a film made by Sydney Pollack between two big hits (The Way We Were  and 3 Days of the Condor ). The film was also co-scripted by Paul Schrader (who had lived in Japan) and starred Robert Mitchum, who was – after a career that had already spanned over 30 years – looking for something different. Robert Towne (who scripted Chinatown, which was probably still in some theaters at this point) was called in to tighten up the script.
Mitchum plays Harry Kilmer, a retired detective who travels to Japan (where he once lived and established a serious relationship with a woman) to find the kidnapped daughter of a friend (Brian Keith). The Yakuza combines gangster, noir and melodrama into a stunning, unforgettable film and something completely different for Mitchum and memorable for us.
North by Northwest (1959) (10x)
Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Ernest Lehman
Cinematography by Robert Burks
Music by Bernard Herrmann
TCM/Fathom Events, Bowie Regal Cinemas, Bowie, MD (2:16)
Previously discussed here
All Through the Night (1941)
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jerry Wald
Screenplay by Leonard Spigelgass, Edwin Gilbert from a story by Spigelgass and Leo Rosten
Cinematography by Sidney Hickox
Warner TCM Greatest Gangster Films Collection: Humphrey Bogart (1:47)
Tough gangster Gloves Donahue (Humphrey Bogart) is really a pretty likable guy, that is until he discovers a cell of Nazis who knocked off the man who makes Gloves’s favorite brand of cheesecake. The comedy is madcap and absolutely infectious as Bogart and his pals take on the bad guys, led by Conrad Veidt. A bit on the long side, but worth every minute.
John Dies at the End (2012)
Written and directed by Don Coscarelli
Produced by Coscarelli, Brad Baruh, Andy Meyers, Roman Perez
Based on the novel of the same name by David Wong
Cinematography by Mike Gioulakis
Netflix streaming (1:40)
Horror/sf/comedy from one of my favorite directors, Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). I won’t even try to describe the plot, but it involves a strange new drug that changes users in absolutely insane ways. It’s manic, gonzo, and most of the time compelling.
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Written by Philip Wylie, Waldemar Young based on the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
Cinematography by Karl Struss
Criterion Blu-ray (1:11)
The classic story of a scientist conducting experiments on animals at a remote South Seas island is familiar and still holds up quite well with a great performance by Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau. Although H.G. Wells hated this film adaptation, it’s still great fun and retains many of it’s unsettling themes.
The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
Written, directed and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Cinematography by Jack Cardiff
United Artists 90th Anniversary Collection DVD (2:10)
If you knew nothing about classic Hollywood movies and wanted to learn about them, following the name Joseph L. Mankiewicz wouldn’t be a bad way to start. Written, directed and (uncredited) produced by Mankiewicz, The Barefoot Contessa (which has nothing to do with the Ina Garten cooking show) is the epic story of a fictional Spanish movie star/sex symbol named Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner). We see the end of her life first, with film director/writer Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart) at her funeral, reminiscing on Maria’s life and struggles with her family, lovers, and movie industry big shots including Warren Stevens and Edmond O’Brien). Good melodrama, but overlong.
The Silent Partner (1978)
Directed by Daryl Duke
Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Stephen Young
Written by Anders Bodelsen, Curtis Hanson
Cinematography by Billy Williams
The Silent Partner is one of my favorite Canadian films and one of the best heist films most people haven’t seen. Elliott Gould plays Miles, a teller at a small Toronto bank located inside a shopping mall. Miles suspects that a mall Santa Claus (Christopher Plummer) is going to rob the bank. When the suspicious Santa does come to his window demanding money, Miles uses the opportunity to keep some for himself. Thus begins a wonderful cat-and-mouse game which also involves two women Miles has his eye on (Susanna York and Celine Lomez). Look for John Candy as a fellow bank employee. Seek this one out; you won’t regret it.
The General (1926)
Directed by Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Produced by Keaton, Joseph Schenck
Screenplay by Keaton, Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman, Charles Henry Smith, Paul Girard Smith
Based on The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger
Kino Blu-ray (1:15)
The Great Movies Series, Severna Park Library
My co-worker (and serious Keaton fan) Julia did a great job introducing this film and leading the discussion afterwards. A true classic.
There’s lots more on the way. In the meantime, tell me what you saw that was good. Or not good…
Photos: Harvard College Library, Stream on Demand, Toronto Film Society, Horror Cult Films, Doctor Macro, Exit Music for Films