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  • Chair de poule

    Chair de poule

    ★★★★½

    A masterful thriller which might very be my favorite film derived from James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice"--in that it's officially based on a novel by James Hadley Chase unofficially adapted from Cain's book. Maybe also the last great film made by great French jack-of-all-trades auteur Julien Duvivier, in the midst of a still-prolific but uneven final decade.

  • Paris When It Sizzles

    Paris When It Sizzles

    ★★½

    An object lesson in misguided remakes, this Richard Quine comedy is still enjoyable for the opportunity to spend two hours with two supremely attractive stars, amid some very pleasant surroundings. The basic idea, of turning Julien Duvivier's brilliant film-length meta-joke LA FETE DU HENRIETTE, into a proper starring vehicle and romantic comedy, is a good one. But George Axelrod's script, at least as realized through a torturous production process, never grasps the watertight construction required for the heady concept of…

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  • Hold Back the Dawn

    Hold Back the Dawn

    ★★★★

    Excellent mix of comedy and melodrama from a Wilder/Brackett script and directed by Mitchell Leisen, one of the lesser-known masters of Golden Age Hollywood. More of an earnest social message than Wilder usually allowed himself, maybe because this was pre-Red Scare. There's also an ingenious framing device, not unlike DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD, but especially intriguing here for how quasi-"meta" it is. DeHavilland and Boyer are also a little looser in their performances than you'd expect from what is ultimately, essentially, a traditional love story.

  • The Day of the Jackal

    The Day of the Jackal

    ★★★★

    A childhood favorite--it's been in the back of my mind to rewatch this ever since I read of Steven Spielberg claiming its influence on MUNICH (so, obviously, for a while.) It clearly is that in the vintage and the locations, which are beautifully captured by Jewish European emigre Fred Zinnemann--I wonder how he felt about this extensive return tour of the Continent? Another possible influence--or at least point of comparison--is NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, in the procedural, show-the-scenes-other-movies-leave-out approach…