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.
Beware, My Lovely (1952) Harry Horner
Beware, My Lovely is one of those movies that contains some obvious problems (which we’ll get to in a moment), but offers rich rewards, especially for fans of Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino. After an attention-getting opening (which I will not describe), we find itinerant handyman Howard Wilton (Ryan) looking for work in a quaint, small town sometime after World War I. Helen Gordon (Lupino), whose husband died in the war, happens to be by herself for the holidays and hires Howard for help with a few chores. Helen is friendly and Howard begins his work well, but we soon suspect that something is terribly wrong. Howard swings back and forth between moments of kindness and dangerous rage, often in the same sentence. Realizing that Howard is volatile and unbalanced, Helen carefully tries to read his moods and act in a way that will placate him long enough for her to alert someone as to the danger she’s in.
While the City Sleeps (1956) Fritz Lang
Newspaper mogul Amos Kyne (Robert Warwick) is clearly in his last days as head of a publishing empire. When he dies, his ne’er-do-well son Walter (Vincent Price, below right) takes control of the paper. Walter’s a real tool, but at least he realizes he needs someone who actually knows the newspaper business and can run things while he acts as the glory-seeking figurehead.
On Dangerous Ground (1952) Nicholas Ray (2x)
Warner Archive Blu-ray
In every Nicholas Ray film I’ve seen, there’s always an underlying darkness that emerges from within what appears to be a conventional (or more likely an unconventional) drama and that’s certainly true of On Dangerous Ground. I just started reading Nicholas Ray: An American Journey by Bernard Eisenschitz, which is a fascinating look at the director’s life and work. I haven’t gotten that far into the book, but I feel certain that loneliness and isolation play a big part in many of his films. They certainly do in this one.
High Sierra (1941)
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Hal B. Wallis and Mark Hellinger
Written by John Huston and W.R. Burnett, based on the Burnett novel
Cinematography by Tony Gaudio
Edited by Jack Killifer
Music by Adolph Deutsch
TCM Greatest Classic Gangsters – Humphrey Bogart DVD (1:40)
“You know, Mac, sometimes I feel like I don’t know what it’s all about anymore.”
– Roy Earle
It may be true that The Petrified Forest (1936) helped launch Humphrey Bogart’s career, but High Sierra (1941) made him a star. Roy Earle is a much more complex character than Duke Mantee and Bogart’s acting chops had developed nicely in the five years between roles. While High Sierra lifted Bogart to the upper tier of leading men, the film also signaled the demise of the gangster picture, a genre that had seemingly endless staying power in the 1930s.
The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Ida Lupino
Kino Classics Blu-ray (1:11)
This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy. Thanks to all these ladies for accepting this post!
The term “villain” implies that there must also be present within a story, a hero or heroes. The villain (other synonyms include scoundrel, reprobate, cur, miscreant, rogue, louse, brute, renegade, and significantly in our case – devil) is meant to be someone so diametrically opposite from the hero that he (or she) is immediately recognizable, yet completely foreign to the protagonist. How disconcerting to discover that the villain may, in fact, be someone very much like ourselves. This disturbing realization is part of what lies at the heart of Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker, brought about through its villain Emmett Myers.
Private Hell 36 (1954) Don Siegel
Amazon Instant Video
In New York City, a man is robbed of $300,000 and murdered. Months later, several of the bills from that robbery begin appearing in Los Angeles. One such bill – a fifty – is given to a nightclub singer named Lili (Ida Lupino) as a tip. L.A. police detectives Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran, left) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff, right) investigate, asking Lili if she thinks she could help them find the man who tipped her.