Directed by Michael Curtiz – at the AFI Silver

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This past weekend, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland launched a series called Directed by Michael Curtiz, running March 17-25. Alan K. Rode, author of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, was on hand to introduce The Breaking Point, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Wolf, and to participate in a panel discussion with Meredith Hindley (Destination Casablanca) and Noah Isenberg (We’ll Always Have Casablanca) on Casablanca. I was able to attend yesterday’s screening of The Sea Wolf, a film I saw and reviewed back in January.

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The Sea Wolf (1941) Michael Curtiz

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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.

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The Unsuspected (1947) Michael Curtiz

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The Unsuspected (1947)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by George Amy, Michael Curtiz and Charles Hoffman
Cinematography by Woody Bredell
Edited by Frederick Richards
Costumes by Milo Anderson
Music by Franz Waxman
Warner Brothers
Borrowed from K.D. (1:43)

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A shadowy figure moves through a darkened house at night, passing by a painting of a woman (which immediately reminds us of Laura [1944]) as he ascends a staircase. Upstairs, a secretary works alone in an office and picks up a ringing telephone. From a pay phone in a nightclub, a woman named Althea (Audrey Totter) asks the secretary if Althea’s husband Oliver is there. “I’m all alone here,” secretary says nonchalantly as the shadowy figure approaches. Althea hears a woman’s scream on the other end of the line. In fear and confusion, Althea abandons the phone and leaves the nightclub with a man who is not her husband.

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Mildred Pierce (1945) Noirvember 2015: Episode 30

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Mildred Pierce (1945) Michael Curtiz
(1:51)
Warner Brothers DVD

The longer you think about Mildred Pierce, the more you realize how completely devastating it is. You may not know exactly how to feel about the film once it’s over and that’s understandable. You may not even know what to call it: film noir, melodrama, women’s picture, or all three. You can certainly make a case for each, but over the years, melodrama seems to have won out. If Mildred Pierce is indeed a melodrama, it’s one of the best you’re likely to see.

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