• Gangsters and Philantropists

    Gangsters and Philantropists

    ★★★½

    The Polish Jerzy Hoffmann and Edward Skórzewski had made 17 documentaries together before shooting their first feature film, a comedy "Gangsterzy i filantropi" in 1962. The film has two segments (a third one was turned dow by the Polish censure board) that are loosely connected.

    In the first segment "Gangsters", an elegant gentleman gangster nicknamed "Professor" plans to commit a perfect crime, a money truck robbery, with his regular sidekick 'Parmesan', the twins 'the Siamese brothers', Baldy and the taxi…

  • Bedlam

    Bedlam

    ★★★★½

    "Bedlam" was Val Lewton's 11th film for RKO Radio Pictures, since they hired him in 1942 to lead their B-film horror unit. He had made films with Jacques Tourneur, but also with two newcomers, Robert Wise and Mark Robson. For this new film he is inspired by 'A Rake's Progress' a series of paintings/engravings by William Hogarth, about Tom Rakewell, a rich heir who squanders his fortune on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling. In the 8th and final plate Tom…

  • Torment

    Torment

    ★★★★★

    In his book "Ingmar Berman: His Life and Films", Jerry Vermilye tells how Svenska Filmindustri's Stina Bergman in 1942 contacted her promising young namesake and urged him to pay her a visit, after reading in "Svenska Dagbladet" Sten Selander's rave notice of Bergman's play "The Death of Punch" at the Student Theater. She remembered him being "shabby and discourteous, coarse and unshaven" and added "He seemed to emerge with a scornful laugh from the darkest corner of Hell; a true…

  • Housewife

    Housewife

    ★★★

    Under pressure of the "Catholic Legion of Decency", protestant- and women groups, the MPPDA (Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America) created in 1933 a new department: Production Code Administration (PCA). From then on no film could be exhibited anywhere in the USA, without a PCA stamp of approval. "Housewife" filmed between april 11 and may 7, 1934 got approved as PCA n° 57, because it had a nice appropriate moral, though total illogical, ending.

    Housewife has a three-angled romantic…

  • The Midnight Man

    The Midnight Man

    ★★★★

    Burt Lancaster must have cursed a few times while reading the June 15, 1974, New York Times review, of his movie 'The Midnight Man', that had its première in New York the previous day:

    "Superlatives are dangerous, so it may only be safe to say that “The Midnight Man,” jointly produced, written and directed by Roland Kibbee and Burt Lancaster, is the second worst film of 1974."

    At 60 years Lancaster wondered what roles he could still play. It was…

  • Ménage

    Ménage

    ★★★★½

    With his films Bertrand Blier often had the intention to shock and change public morality. In 1985, 11 years after 'Les Valseuses', he feels the time is right to address the taboo of homosexuality. He plans to do so with another film about a threesome, his third after the aforementioned Valseuses and 'Préparez vos mouchoirs' in 1978.

    Only two of the original 'Valseuses' trio are available, Gérard Depardieu and Miou-Miou. Patrick Dewaere has shot himself in 1982. Bernard Girardeau will…

  • Vautrin the Thief

    Vautrin the Thief

    ★★★½

    In 1943 it's not easy to make films in occupied France. That year Gaumont has to abort the project of an adaptation of Victor Hugo's 'L'Homme qui rit' (famous as the 1928 film'The Man Who Laughs' by Paul Leni, with Conradt Veidt in the main role), in which Michel Simon would have played the role of the disfigured Gwynplaine. Bertrou, Gaumont's production director consults with Pierre Benoit, writer, screenwriter, and member of the 'Académie Française' and Michel Simon, to look…

  • The Sadist of Notre Dame

    The Sadist of Notre Dame

    ★★½

    In august 1975 Jésus Franco's 'L'éventreur de Notre-Dame' (also known as 'Exorcism) is released. The French 'Eurociné' and the Belgian 'Cetelci S.A. (Compagnie Europeenne Television et de Cinema)' are the two production companies. Before the release, Cetelci has already been declared bankrupt on november 12, 1974. Although there is quite some nudity and gore in the film (a woman is gutted by Franco himself) Eurociné wants Franco to make a hardcore sex version. Under the alias J.P. Johnson, he films…

  • Laughing Heirs

    Laughing Heirs

    ★★★

    In 1933 Max Ophüls ( born as Maximillian Oppenheimer in 1902) had only started writing screenplays and directing two years before, but had worked from 1919 on as a stage actor and theater director. 'Lachende Erben' was his fourth feature film, and was filmed in 1932. Produced by UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft) a part was shot in their studio in Berlin, but for the many location scenes alongside and on the Rhine, Ophüls moved in october 1932, with the cast and…

  • Deadfall

    Deadfall

    ★★★½

    Bryan Forbes had been acting since 1946, when in 1961, 'Whistle down the Wind', his impressive debut as a director was released'. In may 1967 he started shooting his sixth film 'Deadfall'. He had been planning the adaptation of the Desmond Cory novel, published two years before, for quite some time, a psychological crime story about three jewel robbers and their sexual triangle. Forbes, who wrote the screenplay himself, remained faithful to the plot of the novel, but got mocked…

  • The Traveller

    The Traveller

    ★★★★

    Spain, the 15th century. The devil wants to follow in the footsteps of Christ, as Leonardo, the traveller. Unlike Jesus he only has one apostle, Tómas, with whom he walks through the countryside, where he wreaks havoc...

    The devil: "Once upon a time the devil was getting bored, so transformed into a mortal, he visited earth. He accepted the weaknesses of the flesh. He could get sick or even die. He rarely used his powers, for he thought things would…

  • Prison

    Prison

    ★★★★★

    Mathematics teacher Paul in Prison: "Life cuts a path like a cruel and sensual arc, from cradle to grave. A great laughing masterpiece. Simultaneously beautiful and hideous, without mercy or meaning"

    Ingmar Bergman in an article in Stockholms-Tidningen the day before the première of Fängelse:

    "Make a cheap film, make the cheapest film ever made in a Swedish studio and you'll be given enormous freedom to work entirely as your conscience and invention dictate. For this reason I set out…