La Foire aux Chimères (1946)

“Can you imagine the torture of feeling the sun’s warmth without being dazzled by its light?”

vt Devil and the Angel; vt Carnival of Illusions
France / 93 minutes / bw / Cinéma, National Dir: Pierre Chenal Pr: Ralph Baum Scr: Jacques Companéez, Ernst Neubach, Louis Ducreux Cine: Pierre Montazel Cast: Madeleine Sologne, Erich von Stroheim, Louis Salou, Yves Vincent, Claudine Dupuis, Jean-Jacques Delbo, Margo Lion, Pierre Labry, Georges Vitray, Georges Cusin, Merove, Line Renaud, Gustave Gallet, Annette Poivre, Frouhins, Denise Benoît, J.P. Moulinot, Dora Doll, Howard Vernon, Devienne, Paul Delauzac.

I watched this in the form of the restoration done by the French Ministère de la Culture’s Archives du Film du Centre Nationale de la Cinématographie. As you’ll see from the screengrabs, the picture quality is a little soft; what you can’t see from the screengrabs, of course, is that the sound isn’t of the best. Even so, the restoration is very watchable and the movie itself quite enchanting, with a dark streak of noirishness revealing itself in the later stages, after the earlier Beauty and the Beast fairytale is over.

Erich von Stroheim as Frank.

It’s the 50th birthday of Frank Davis (von Stroheim), the man in charge of the printing of banknotes for a major bank. Frank is a lonely man and a prickly personality as a consequence of the facial disfigurement he suffered some long while ago—in combat or in an accident, we’re not told. (I think we’re meant to assume it was an accident involving the acids with which, as an engraver, he must work.) His subordinates, especially the younger ones, despise him for his irascibility and his humorlessness. Here’s an exchange early on in the movie as Continue reading

Todd Mason’s Overlooked A/V: the links to reviews, etc., of films, television, radio and more

Once more the invaluable listing of media-related articles and reviews from around the web. Click HERE to be taken to Todd’s Sweet Freedom blog for the individual links.

A.J. Wright: Alabama Jones

Alice Chang: Gravity Rush 2

Anne Billson: Night on the Galactic Railroad

The Big Broadcast: 16 April 2017 archived
7 p.m. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
“The Cui Bono Matter” Part 5 (CBS, Original air date February 17, 1956)(Running time 14:45)
7:15 p.m. Treasury Star Parade
“An Easter Story” (US Treasury, Original recording date 1942)(Running time 14:31)
7:30 p.m. The Jack Benny Show
“Walking in the Easter Parade” (CBS, Original air date April 17, 1949)(Running time 26:06)
8:00 p.m. Gunsmoke
“The Correspondent” (CBS, AFRTS rebroadcast, Original air date November 23, 1958)(Running time 18:28)
8:20 p.m. NBC Live Report
“FDR Greets Easter Egg Rollers” (NBC, Original broadcast date March 29, 1937)(Running time 6:55)
8:30 p.m. Dragnet
Program #60 “The Big Dare” (NBC, Original air date August 3, 1950)(Running time 26:52)
9:00 p.m. The Six Shooter
“The Crisis at Easter Creek” (NBC, Original air date April 15, 1954)(Running time 29:49)
9:30 p.m. Our Miss Brooks
“New Egg Dye” (CBS, Original air date April 9, 1950)(Running time 29:36)
10:00 p.m. Marian Anderson Concert
“Live at the Lincoln Memorial” (Original broadcast date April 9, 1939)(Running time 29:02)
10:30 p.m. Lights Out!
“The Flame” (CBS, Original air date March 23, 1943)(Running time 23:19)

Bill Crider: The Golden Arrow (1962 film) [trailer]

Bob Freelander: Rumble Fish; Tales from the Hood

Brian Lindenmuth: Gunfight at the OK Corral films

B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

Classic Movie Salon: discussing All the Presidents Men

Colin McGulgan: The Lady from Shanghai

Comedy Film Nerds: Troy Conrad; Jordan Brady

Cult TV/Bob: The Avengers (with Diana Rigg): “Small Game for Big Hunters”

Cynthia Fuchs: Heal the Living; Miss Sloane

Dan Stumpf: Skipalong Rosenblum

The Dana Gould Hour: Stephen Tobolowsky; Maggie Rowe

David Cramner: The Dark Valley

David Vineyard: Fistful of Diamonds

Elizabeth Foxwell: Candles at Nine

The Faculty of Horror: the films Resident Evil; Silent Hill

George Kelley: Batman: The Animated Series: The Joker Collection

Graham Chapman/Eric Idle and John Cleese

How Did This Get Made?: The Lake House

Iba Dawson: I, Daniel Blake

International Waters: Amber Nash, D’Arcy Carden, Susy Kane and Humphrey Ker

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Alcatraz Island; Missing Witnesses; Over the Wall; Broadway Musketeers; Bob Hope Salutes the Troops

Jack Seabrook: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: James Bridges adapts Margaret MIllar’s “Beast in View”

Jackie Kashian/The Dork Forest: Julie Dixon Jackson on genealogy and genealogy television

Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Rhapsody in Blue (1945 film)

Jake Hinkson: Edward Herrmann and audiobooks

James Clark: Close-Up (1990 Iranian film)

James Reasoner: The Shakiest Gun in the West

Janet Varney/The JV Club: Felicia Day; Giulia Rozzi

Jason Abbey: The Big Heat

J.D. Lafrance: Tombstone

Jedidiah Ayres: Go for Sisters

Jerry House: Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout; Superman (MBS/Mutual Radio); The Blue Beetle (CBS Radio)

John Carpenter: guilty pleasures

John Grant: “Crime Scenes: Donald Westlake on Film”; House of Mystery(1961 film); The Laws of Motion

John Scoleri: Dark Shadows Before I Die: the episodes reviewed; Dr. Phibes Rises Again and Caroline Munro

John Varley: “The White Helmets”; Stalag 17

Jonathan Lewis: Two on a Guillotine; The Night Visitor

Karen Hannsberry: The Hollywood Museum; movies that make KH cry

Ken Levine: Elizabeth Montgomery; Fridays; Friends: The Musical

Kim Newman: The Transfiguration; Bloody Muscle-Builder from Hell

Kliph Nesteroff: The Mike Douglas Show (1966 episodes); Late Night with David Letterman: Irwin Corey (1983)

Emma Thompson’s 1988 BBC sketch comedy series Thompson, episode 4

Kristina Dijan: Classic films to watch this year; Crisis (1950 film); Rawhide (1951 film)

Laura G: Lovin’ the Ladies; Smart Woman; Millionaires in Prison; TCM Classic Film Festival

Lindsay D: recent films; Always Goodbye; Our Song; Three Loves Has Nancy

The Long Shot: Nick Mandernach

Louis Fowler: Three for the Road

Maltin on Movies: J. K. Simmons

Martin Edwards: Fear is the Key

Marty McKee: Charley Varrick

Mildred Perkins: The Andromeda Strain (1971 film)

Mitchell Hadley: Television, Baltimore/Washington DC 18 April 1972; TV Guide, 15 April 1972

Movie Sign with the Mads: Valley of the Dolls

Noel Vera: Toni Erdmann

Patricia Nolan-Hall: Boots Malone

Patti Abbott: Dead of Night

Paul Brazill: Nil by Mouth; Big City Blues

The Projection Booth: La Grande Illusion

Raquel Stecher: America, America; Carl and Rob Reiner; TCM Classic Film Festival red carpet

Rick: Sleeping Beauty (1959 Disney)

Rod Lott: The Dungeon of Harrow; Seedpeople

Ruth Kerr: Chinatown

Salome Wilde: Dead Ringer

Sanford Allen: Raw

Scott Cupp: Paul

Scott Drebit: Underrated 1987 films

Serena Bramble: Gloria Grahame

Sergio Angelini: The Marseille Contract (aka The Destructors)

Stacia Kissick Jones: Torch Song; Flamingo Road (1949 film); The Delinquents; S.O.B.

Stacie Ponder: 20 favorite horror films

Stephen Bowie: Peyton Place (television)

Stephen Gallagher: A British writer in US tv

Steve Lewis: Dead Again

Thompson (BBC 1988) episode 1 part 1

Television Obscurities: Life is Wild

Tynan: Solaris (1972); A Clockwork Orange

Vienna: Greta Garbo

o/t: Dial B for Brexit: how Hitchcock would explain Britain’s current politics

The European council’s Donald Tusk likened Brexit and the snap election to a Hitchcock film. Here’s how the director might have plotted a Theresa May movie

Peter Bradshaw

Wednesday 19 April 2017 15.10 BST

The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, says that, what with the Brexit shock and Theresa May’s snap election, our political events have been directed by Alfred Hitchcock – cheekily quoting the celebrated director’s maxim that a good film should start with an earthquake and then get the tension to rise relentlessly.

Earthquake plus tension? This feels more like . . .

Read the rest HERE.

House of Mystery (1961)

Mordre wol out!

UK / 54 minutes / bw / Independent Artists, Anglo–Amalgamated Dir & Scr: Vernon Sewell Pr: Julian Wintle, Leslie Parkyn Story: L’Angoisse (n.d.) by Pierre Mills and Celia de Vilyars Cine: Ernest Steward Cast: Jane Hylton, Peter Dyneley, Nanette Newman, Maurice Kaufmann, Colin Gordon, John Merivale, Ronald Hines, Colette Wilde, Molly Urquhart, George Selway, Freda Bamford, Roy Purcell, John Abineri, Pearson Dodd.

Vernon Sewell bought the screen rights of the Pierre Mills and Celia de Vilyars stage play L’Angoisse and went on to film it no fewer than four times, of which this was the fourth. The other three were The Medium (1934), Latin Quarter (1945) and Ghost Ship (1952); I’ve already written on this site about Latin Quarter—a far more ambitious effort than this offering. What puzzles me is that, despite supposedly being based on the same play, the two movies—the 1945 one being cheerily Grand Guignol and this one being a fairly straightforward, sub-M.R. Jamesian ghost story of the kind you might expect the BBC to broadcast around Christmas—don’t seem to have a huge amount in common. Moreover, while the seemingly supernatural component of Latin Quarter can be more or less rationalized, that’s far from so in this case.

So why am I talking about the movie here? Is it just because I’m a confirmed Nanette Newman fanboy? Ahem. Heaven forfend. Nothing of the sort. Surely. The raison d’être of this entry is that the movie’s a variant of Latin Quarter, which most certainly is of interest within the broadish parameters of this site.

Nanette Newman as Joan.

Somewhere near Barnstaple in North Devon, in the UK’s southwest, a househunting young couple, Alan (Hines) and his unnamed wife (Wilde), arrive at Orchard Cottage. It’s spacious and lovely and it’s in its own grounds, and it’s remarkably cheap:

Alan: “Darling, this is the one that’s £2,500.”
Wife: “Well, the price is ridiculous. Must be falling to bits or something.”

Later, just to remind us how things have changed a tad since 1961, certainly in the area of house prices, Alan qualifies: “Must be worth at least £6,000.”

They’re met at the door by a rather creepy middle-aged woman whom they assume to be the caretaker. She starts to tell them about the house, and the Continue reading

The Laws of Motion (2014 TVM)

Eh? Father Brown goes noir?

UK / 43 minutes / color / BBC Dir: Paul Gibson Pr: Jonathan Phillips Scr: Tahsin Guner Based on the character created by G.K. Chesterton Cine: Alan Beech Cast: Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Alex Price, Nancy Carroll, Tom Chambers, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Amelia Lowdell, Cian Barry, Oliver Mellor, Lisa Jackson, John Burton.

What’s this? An episode of the BBC’s Father Brown TV series on a site called Noirish? I know I have a deliberate policy of casting my net as wide as possible here, but surely this is ridiculous. Have I gone bonkers?

Probably yes, but in this instance there’s a rationale behind the seeming madness.


A while ago I read—I’ve long forgotten where—that this particular episode is a DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) riff, and so, eager as ever to find noir-related curios, I tracked it down. Certainly the cast list backed up the claim—two of the characters are called Walter MacMurray and Phyllis Stanwyck, which seems a bit of a dead giveaway.

And yet . . .

Audrey (Tracy-Ann Oberman) receives a slap in the face.

Audrey MacMurray (Oberman) is a ruthless businesswoman of middle years and a person of great cruelty in her private life; as one character observes, she chews people up, spits them out and delights in so doing. Her hobby is driving racecars, and today, somewhere in Gloucestershire, she’s partaking in the Continue reading

o/t: Crime Scenes: Donald Westlake on Film

A retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NYC, May 12-14.

This looks like a lot of fun! From the website:

Brooklyn-born Donald E. Westlake published nearly a hundred novels under various pseudonyms during his half-century career, the most influential being the hard-boiled Parker novels. Over the years, the hallmarks of a Westlake book never changed: He was a dedicated craftsman, writing clean, unfussy, powerfully effective prose, weaving complicated and surprising plots, and always letting a deep interest in (and often amusement at) human behavior drive the action. His prose has been the font for many and varied works of cinema. This program brings together the most successful and interesting films based on Westlake’s books, such as Point Blank (1967) (starring peak Lee Marvin), The Hot Rock (1972) (with Robert Redford), The Outfit (1973) (with Robert Duvall), Cops and Robbers (1973), and Jean-Luc Godard’s Made in U.S.A. (1966). It also includes two for which he wrote screenplays: the 1987 original The Stepfather and his 1990 Oscar-nominated adaptation of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters.

Organized by guest curator Levi Stahl, Associate Film Curator Eric Hynes, and Chief Curator David Schwartz.

Here’s that link again:

Todd Mason’s Overlooked A/V: films, television and more

Yet another installment of the ever-useful weekly compilation. Click HERE to be wafted tastefully to Todd’s fab Sweet Freedom blog, where you’ll find all the individual links.

A. J. Wright: Boots Mallory
Alice Chang: consoles
Anne Billson: The Girl Who Knew Too Much (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)
The Big Broadcast: 9 April 2017
Bill Crider: Blood Father [trailer]
Bob Freelander: Never Too Young to Die
Brian Arnold: Don Rickles
Brian Lindenmuth: “Times Like Dying”
B. V. Lawson: Media Murder
Classic Movie Salon: (Sunday after next, discussing) All the Presidents Men
Colin McGulgan: Springfield Rifle
Comedy Filn Nerds: Dino Stamatopoulos & Leah Tiscione; Ramon Rivas II
Cult TV: The Avengers (starring Diana Rigg): “Return to Castle De’Ath”
Cynthia Fuchs: Colossal; The Bye Bye Man
Dan Stumpf: These Thousand Hills
Dave Wain: Underrated ’87 films
David Cramner: The Salvation
David James Keaton: men out of prison films
Elgin Bleecker: It Always Rains on Sundays
Elizabeth Foxwell: The Fat Man: “The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli” (tv pilot); Robert Bloch centennial
Eric Hillis: Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
The Faculty of Horror: Calvaire and Martyrs (2008 film)
Gary Deane: Rural noir films
George Kelley: The Flash: “Duet”
“Gilligan Newton-John”: 3-4 January 1981 primetime US broadcast network tv
How Did This Get Made?: xXx: Return of Alexander Cage
Iba Dawson: Kicks
Ivan G. Shreve Jr.: Accidents Will Happen; Beverly Hills Vamp;; Crime Does Not Pay: “Buried Loot”; Crime Does Not Pay the series; You’d Be Surprised
Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “Whodunnit?”
Jackie Kashian/The Dork Forest: Hal Lublin on Saturday Night Live (and The Great American Bake-Off); Thrilling Adventure Hour cast featuring Hal Lublin
Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show
Jacqueline T. Lynch: I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now
Jake Hinkson: After Dark, My Sweet
James Clark: Paterson
James Reasoner: Flashback (1990 film)
Janet Varney/The JV Club: Linda Park
J. D. Lafrance: Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Jerry House: TED Talks: Ze Frank on Nerdcore Comedy; Baywatch Nights
John Grant: The Naked Edge; Der Verdacht
John Scolerii: Dark Shadows Before I Die: the episodes reviewed
John Varley: Stagecoach (1939 film); The Girl in the Park
Jonathan Lewis: Gambling Lady
Juri Nummelin: The Glass House
Karen Hannsberry: Hope Emerson
Ken Levine: diagnosing problem scripts; WGA strike potential
Kim Newman: Secrets in the Walls; Pulgasari
Kliph Nesteroff: The Joe Franklin Show: David Frye, Jay Leno (1982)
Kristina Dijan: The Dark Tower; The Hook; Love Me Tonight; Canadian trivia; more Canadian trivia
Laura G: I Was a Shoplifter; Jamaica Inn; Infernal Machine
Leo Doroschenko/Andrew Porter: Alcoa Premiere: “Mr. Lucifer” written by Alfred Bester
Lindsay D: Midnight (1939 film)
Maltin on Movies: Hayley Mills
Martin Edwards: Blind Date (aka Chance Encounter; 1959 film); The Witness for the Prosecution (BBC TV 2016)
Marty McKee: The Mask of Fu Manchu; Ocean’s 11 (1960 film)
Mildred Perkins: Home (2016 stage musical by Christy Hall and Scot Alan)
Mitchell Hadley: Cleveland/Youngstown TV listings, 10 April 1971; TV Guide 10 April 1971
Movie Sign with the Mads: The African Queen
Noel Vera: The Devils
Patricia Nolan-Hall: Avanti!
Patti Abbott: The Innocents
Paul D Brazill: Tony Hancock
The Projection Booth: They Live
Raquel Stecher: Griffith Observatory; TCM Film Festival
Rick: For Love or Money; Le Mans
Rod Lott: Eliminators; Aftermath (2017 film); Minutes Past Midnight
Ruth Kerr: Gary Cooper
Salome Wilde: River (tv series)
Sergio Angelini: The House of Fear
Stacia Kissick Jones: Loophole (1981 film); The Internecine Project
Stacie Ponder: Mystics in Bali
Stephen Bowie: David Kelley
Stephen Gallagher: FantasyCon 2016
Steve Lewis: South Sea Woman; Frontier Circus: “Depths of Fear” (pilot)
Todd Mason: Robert Bloch: conventions and drama
TV Obscurities: March Home Media releases
Tynan: Starter for 10; Sing Street
Vienna: Tall, Dark and Handsome

Take Five (2013)

A tale of dishonor among thieves!

Italy / 93 minutes / color / Minerva, Eskimo, Figli del Bronx, Rai Dir & Scr: Guido Lombardi Pr: Gaetano di Vaio, Gianluca Curti, Dario Formisano Story: Guido Lombardi, Gaetano di Vaio Cine: Francesca Amitrano Cast: Peppe Lanzetta, Salvatore Striano, Salvatore Ruocco, Carmine Paternoster, Gaetano di Vaio, Antonio Pennarella, Antonio Buonomo, Vittoria Schisano, Alan De Luca, Marco Mario de Notaris, Emanuele Abbate, Esther Elisha, Giancarlo Gallo.

Naples sanitation employee Carmine (Paternoster) is called by the snooty manager (De Luca) to the HQ of the Banca Partenope, where there’s a sewage leak behind the wall of the antechamber to the bank’s vault. Some while later Carmine, a compulsive gambler, is painfully reminded by local Camorra enforcer Antonio (Buonomo) that he owes money to the organization. So Carmine goes to fence Gaetano (di Vaio) and tells him about a cunning plan he’s had . . . Continue reading

The Naked Edge (1961)

A tense little psychological thriller — and it’s Gary Cooper’s last movie!

UK, US / 97 minutes / bw / Glass–Seltzer, Pennebaker–Baroda, UA Dir: Michael Anderson Pr: Walter Seltzer, George Glass Scr: Joseph Stefano Story: First Train to Babylon (1955) by Max Ehrlich Cine: Erwin Hillier Cast: Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Eric Portman, Diane Cilento, Hermione Gingold, Peter Cushing, Michael Wilding, Ronald Howard, Ray McAnally, Sandor Elès, Wilfrid Lawson, Helen Cherry, Joyce Carey, Diane Clare, Frederick Leister, Martin Boddey, Peter Wayn.

Six years ago, Jason Roote (Boddey), owner and CEO of the Jason Roote Air Freight Corporation, was stabbed to death one night in his office. Only two other employees were on the premises that evening, doing overtime: sales manager George “Cliffe” Radcliffe (Cooper) and lowlier staffer Donald Heath (McAnally). Cliffe heard Roote’s death cry and saw the murderer running away; he and a cop (uncredited) gave chase and Continue reading