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  • 49th Parallel

    49th Parallel

    ★★★★½

    Trust Pressburger and Powell to come up with such a strikingly original concept for a wartime propaganda piece - let's have a group of Nazis as our central characters and discover the grit and determination of the Canadian people encountered by our villains as they travel through the country towards the then-neutral USA. As novel as Colonel Blimp and almost as accomplished.

    Eric Portman is the most effective of the Nazis, a chilling glint of evil fervour in his eyes.…

  • The Man from Morocco

    The Man from Morocco

    ★★★

    A well-upholstered tale of wartime intrigue that crosses continents in its ambitions (Spain, France, Morocco, London) while remaining parochial in its locations (Welwyn Studios in Hertfordshire, some sandy dunes somewhere). The production design and some of the camerawork is impressive; the script content and some of the acting less so. 

    As a revolutionary fighter in the Spanish Civil War, Anton Walbrook flashes his eyes in the way that we - well, I at least - love so well. Margaretta Scott…

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  • Ball of Fire

    Ball of Fire

    ★★★★★

    To some dear readers there may be an element of sacrilege in the following query, but what makes this a Howard Hawks film? This is a Billy Wilder film. The story originated with him and the script (from him and Charles Brackett) is filled with obvious Wilderisms, toying with the English language and sexual mores in his uniquely mischievous Viennese fashion. As one of the exchanges between professor and gangster goes:
    'You don't mind if we talk, do you?'
    'Just…

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    It's a Wonderful Life

    ★★★★★

    What a Christmas treat to watch this for the first time in years with an eager audience on the big screen and to hear noses being blown at various key moments during the film. My nose being one of the above-mentioned, obviously. It never fails.

    On this viewing it struck me how just well made it is - the photography is exemplary, the structure flawless and the acting uniformly excellent. Kudos obviously to Jimmy who lives the part, but take…