I recently revisited George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, a movie I first saw in 1971 when I was nine years old. Was I too young for such a movie? Maybe. After reading this reminiscence, you might be able to tell me what you think about how it shaped me as a movie-goer. (It’s difficult for me to evaluate that with any objectivity.) In later years I saw bits and pieces (no pun intended) of the movie on cable TV, but didn’t really give it much thought until I bought the Criterion Blu-ray on a whim. So 50 years after the release of the film – and 47 since I saw it – here are my thoughts, starting with three observations:
The Sea Wolf (1941)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner, Henry Blanke
Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Jack London
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Sol Polito
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:40)
The recent Blu-ray release of The Sea Wolf deserves at the very least a parade down the streets of Hollywood, or the 21st century equivalent: a potpourri of tweets, shares, postings, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth praise. Not only have the fine folks at Warner Archive given us a beautiful 4K scan of the film, they’ve also restored 14 minutes of missing footage cut from the film’s 1947 re-release. And let’s not forget that this release also provides us with yet another example of the greatness of director Michael Curtiz.
Experiment in Terror (1962) Blake Edwards
Indicator Blu-ray (2:03)
I’m stepping outside my prescribed classic film noir timeline (roughly 1940-1959) to bring you a nail-biter from 1962, but once you see it, I don’t think you’ll mind my bending the rules a bit.
White Heat (1949) Raoul Walsh
Ultimate Gangsters Collection Blu-ray (1:54)
James Cagney stars as Cody Jarrett, psychotic leader of a gang of robbers, but there’s much more to the role and the film. Jarrett is vicious, murdering people without thinking twice, even discarding his own people if they’re injured and unable to help themselves.
My previous bonus episode covered T-Men (1947), a recent Blu-ray from ClassicFlix. Now comes another release from the same company, one that may be even more impressive than T-Men: Alfred L. Werker’s He Walked by Night (1948) with directorial contributions by Anthony Mann.
The Dark Mirror (1946) Robert Siodmak
Olive Blu-ray (1:25)
Watching The Dark Mirror in 1946 was undoubtedly a fascinating experience. First of all you had Olivia de Havilland performing wonderfully as twin sisters, a Nunnally Johnson screenplay, cinematographer Milton R. Krasner, music by Dimitri Tiomkin and, of course, Robert Siodmak directing. Over 70 years later, the film’s impact is far less than it was in 1946, but this has less to do with the people who made the film than our understanding of psychology.
T-Men (1947) Anthony Mann
U.S. Treasury Agents Dennis O’Brien (Dennis O’Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) go after counterfeiters in this crackerjack police procedural that begins in a pseudo-documentary style before settling down to nail-biting crime story, a nice blend of procedural and film noir. The tension is both excellent and hard-edged, and anytime you’ve got Charles McGraw in the cast, you know there’s gonna be some serious hurt put on someone… and there is! The film features cinematography by the always wonderful John Alton. (More on him and director Anthony Mann in a moment.)