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The Renovator - (Jun 8th)
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It's definitely hard to pin down a personal favourite Wilder film, though I tend towards his earlier masterworks such as 'The Lost Weekend', 'Sunset Boulevard'...and THIS. He was one of the finest at getting straight through the bullshit and to the heart of all things noir (as the immortal Jean-Luc Godard stated, 'All I need to make a film is a man, a girl and a gun'). Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favourite actresses of the period, and is a classic 'femme fatale'. I've never been a huge fan of Fred MacMurray, but his 'nice guy' persona is used to sheer advantage by Wilder, and he end up both doing his finest work for Wilder (here and in 'The Apartment') and being the ultimate noir male protagonist. Interestingly, one of my favourite actors, Edward G. Robinson, thought so much of the script that he opted out of his demand of never doing a supporting role. Many people admire Wilder the director, but as a writer (or co-writer) he's just as cinematically important and influential. Like any other film of his, at least that I've had the pleasure to see, it's worth a purchase and re-watches. The dialogue, especially, is simply fantastic. I'd take just one of his early works over a hundred of the films Hollywood churns out nowadays. They're simply that better and intrinsically satisfying. Immortal cinema.
A banner movie from film noir's classic era. Double Indemnity is directed by Billy Wilder and Wilder co-adapts the screenplay with Raymond Chandler from the novella written by James M. Cain. It stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. Music is by Miklos Rozsa and cinematography by John F. Seitz. For a film lover such as myself it feels redundant writing a review for Double Indemnity, because quite simply there's nothing to say that hasn't been said already. The esteem it is held in is justified, it's a razor sharp noir across the board and can be put up as one of the classic noir era pictures that got lovers of the form interested in the first place. Based around the infamous Snyder/Gray case of 1927, Wilder and Chandler fill the story with a sinister cynicism that is palpable in the extreme. With a script positively pumped with hard boiled dialogue, a simple case of murder becomes so much more, a labyrinth of devious cunning and foolishness, with a trio of top performances crowning this topper. Technically via aural and visual work the story gains extra spice. Rosza provides a score that frays the nerves, imbuing the sense of doom and edginess required for plotting. Seitz excels, the photography a trademark for noir, heavy shadows, abrupt camera angles and menacing shards of light come to the fore. And to top it all off, it gets away with so much, a real censorship baiter. The story takes a journey to the dark side of morality, and the makers, bless them for they know what they do, gleefully tease the production code to give film noir fans a reason to rejoice. Quintessential stuff. 10/10
Perhaps the single best example of a film noir movie, _Double Indemnity_ (1944), stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. Based on a novel written by James Cain, the screenplay was co-written by Billy Wilder and the amazing Raymond Chandler. Set in 1938 California, the story is based on the true-life 1927 murder of a married Queens, New York woman's husband who was killed by the woman's boyfriend after she took out a large insurance policy that contained a double-indemnity clause. In this movie, Phyllis Dietrichson (played by Stanwyck) takes out a life insurance policy on her husband with the help of insurance salesman-soon-to-be-turned-murderer Walter Neff (played by MacMurray). Robinson plays Barton Keyes, Neff's co-worker and a very suspicious claims adjuster who suspects Phyllis Dietrichson might have had something to do with her husband's sudden death. This movie is an hour and forty-seven minutes of pure movie love. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards [Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbara Stanwyck), Best Director, Best Writing-Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Recording, and Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)], though it won none.
Very well done film noir from the 1940s with great performances by Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson along with good photography and direction from Billy Wilder. I've seen this one before but it's been at least 20 years though coincidentally, a scene from this was in a movie I recently watched (another re-watch) in Femme Fatale. **4.5/5**
So poor old Tom Powers is married to the cold and calculating "Phyllis" (Barbara Stanwyck). When she starts to have an affair with his charismatic insurance broker "Walter" (Fred MacMurray) the two alight on a cunning plan to dispose of him and to claim the life insurance money. Being in the know about these things, "Walter" figures out a way in which they can double the payout. With their hands still rubbing together, the man's body is found on a railway track and when the police believe it accidental, the cash rolls in. All looks good until one of his colleagues "Keyes" (Edward G. Robinson) smells a rat - and he starts to stick his very sensitive nose in. I always felt Barbara Stanwyck was a very under-rated actress - she is terrific here, as is the under-stated Robinson. Even the usually unremarkable MacMurray turns in an strong performance as Billy Wilder, with some great intense photography and wonderfully potent dialogue pulls the threads of this clever and menacing drama together. The always reliable Miklós Rósza creates a score that really works well with the accumulating tension as we head towards a denouement that keeps us on our toes right til the end. This is a great film.
In the late 1990s, a drug-addled nihilist resorts to murder to climb the ladder of the London music industry.
Molly's husband Rick was a gang leader somewhere in the middle west. When he's shot, the tough woman moves to S.F. with a couple of the gang to start anew. Disguised as a noble woman, she and her gang rob security transports. But when one day Rob confesses to her that he killed Rick out of jealousy, she shoots him down immediately. In lack of proof she can't be convicted for the murder, but she goes to jail for the robberies. It's a new and very open female prison, where she learns a profession for the first time in her life.
Sent to a dude ranch in the west to recover her health, a New York actress falls in love with a ranch owner recently acquitted of the murder of his wife.
Hans Baerlach is a Swiss police detective who has dedicated much of his career to pursuing powerful and allegedly murderous businessman Richard Gastmann. Though Baerlach's partner meets his demise while investigating Gastmann, his replacement, Walter Tschanz, is undaunted. Meanwhile, the lovely Anna Crawley becomes involved in the case, which proceeds to take many twists and turns.
A young woman, Junta, lives apart from her village and, for her solitude and strangeness, is considered to be a witch; when she comes to the village for one reason or another, the townsfolk chase her away. They feel that she may in some way be responsible for the deaths of several young men of the village, who have felt compelled, one by one, to climb the local mountain - and fall to their deaths - on nights when the moon is full.
An Indian mystic uses magical chants to raise women from the dead, then sends them out to perform revenge killings for him.
During World War II, the Japanese military established a secret underground laboratory in Tokyo. Three Olympic-level athletes were selected to undergo a process that would turn them into Jinra-go, superhuman armored soldiers. By March 1945, one of the soldiers had been completely transformed into the half man/half machine ultimate soldier called Mikadroid. But American B-29s firebomb the city and, while the two super soldiers manage to escape, Mikadroid and the lab are apparently destroyed. 45 years pass, Tokyo is rebuilt, and old secrets are forgotten. The site is now home to a complex that includes the Discoclub Layla. The disco’s patrons dance late into the night, unaware that a faulty basement generator has reactivated Mikadroid and the cyborg now prowls the basement levels, killing anyone in its path...
Inspector Holloway is investigating a series of brutal murders in which a doll of each victim is found at the scene. The dolls, as it turns out,were purchased by the crippled Mrs. Von Sturm, whose home is overcrowded with a doll collection. Her pale, wide-eyed, neurotic son is the prime suspect and the daughter of one of the victims discovers the shocking truth.
An ex-con sets up a program to straighten out hard-core prisoners. Things don't go as planned.
An unhappy wife uses her powers of manipulation to draw an infatuated man into an ill-fated jewelry heist.
The wedding of Ellen and David is halted by a stranger who insists that the bride is already married to someone else. Though the flabbergasted Ellen denies the charge, the interloper produces enough evidence that his accusation must be investigated. Ellen and David travel to the small coastal town where her first wedding allegedly occurred. There, they meet a number of individuals whose stories make Ellen question her own sanity.