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  • The Docks of New York

    The Docks of New York

    ★★★★½

    Eroticism and emotion emulated in a studio waterfront congested with shacks, masts and bows, populated by drunken sailors, whores and weirdly friendly seagulls and albatross. A full-blown von Sternbergian never-land, a pulp version of reality where passions are set to maximum and the stories are arcs of emotions painted with light and shadow and baroque mise-en-scène — it is the flowering of von Sternberg’s style which reaches its bizarre apotheosis with The Scarlet Empress. Here, the melodrama provides enough secure…

  • Storm in a Teacup

    Storm in a Teacup

    ★★★

    Fairly blunt social comedy, mocking the usual Scottish stereotypes, is given a slight extra tincture in the era of Brexit. Cecil Parker plays a provost with political aspirations in the Scottish Nationalist Party, but he is self-interested to the point of corruption. Cutting him down to size is Rex Harrison in his first leading part. He plays a reporter/social justice warrior with a deeply ingrained sense of humour and self-deprecation, which means he is a very rare beast indeed. He…

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  • Foreign Correspondent

    Foreign Correspondent

    ★★★★

    With David O Selznick off his back, Hitchcock revels in the Hollywood playground and produces his first blockbuster. It's also, arguably, his most typical adventure thriller until North by Northwest (which is, in some ways, a rehash of this film). It lacks the psychological complexities of Hitchcock's best films (including Rebecca), and even though WWII is on the doorstep, it's less pressing a propaganda piece than The Lady Vanishes, for example, apart from the earnest (and pretty terrific) tacked on…

  • Man's Favorite Sport?

    Man's Favorite Sport?

    ★★★★½

    Paula Prentiss's Abigail is so consumed by Rock Hudson's Roger Willoughby — a fraud but also a sweet, gentle soul — she goes a little nuts. She can't leave him alone, which causes Roger no amount of grief, but it also leads him to become the best version of himself. In other words, she makes an honest man out of him. This is Howard Hawks's most extreme statement concerning the battle of the sexes. At one point, Easy (Maria Perschy),…