Twelve Shorts for the Shortest Month #2: Lure (2010)

US / 23 minutes / color / Aegis, Brothers Young Dir & Scr: Byron Conrad Erwin Cine: Tom Pritchard Cast: Jared Young, Josh Ford, Travis Young, Peter Kown, Brent Brooks, Brenda Norbeck, Jason Grant Davis, Carlette Jennings, Maura Perrin, Karli G. Brooks, Julia Butler, Mary Jac Beavers, Bob Young, Diana Young, Matthew Young, Ian George

A young man, Paul (Jared Young) is chronically depressed because, he thinks, of accumulated guilt over the fact that, every time he sees an attractive young woman, he harbors lustfully explicit thoughts about her. While this latter might seem a pretty normal state of affairs for most young (and, hm, even not so young) men, for Paul it’s an offense against his deeply held Christian principles.

Although shrink Eric Neil (Ford), equally Christian, pushes him away from such ideas, Paul fantasizes about suicide, which he sees as the only way out of his dilemma. However, Continue reading

Hotel Imperial (1927)

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Pola Negri stars in a high melodrama!
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US / 77 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Mauritz Stiller Pr: Erich Pommer Scr: Jules Furthmann, Edwin Justus Mayer Story: Hotel Imperial (1917 play) by Lajos Biró Cine: Bert Glennon Cast: Pola Negri, James Hall, George Siegmann, Mickael Vavitch, Max Davidson, Otto Fries, Josef Swickard, Nicholas Soussanin.

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The opening title of this intriguing silent movie sets the time and place:

“Somewhere in Galicia, March, 1915—when Austrian fought Russian on Austrian ground.”

This is worth remembering because, according to the Turner Classic Movies online database, the movie is set in Hungary. The same site shows a capsule review by Leonard Maltin, which summarizes the plot thus:

“As WW1 floods over the map of Europe, a squad of Austrian soldiers seeks sanctuary in a small village inn, only to find it occupied by enemy Russians. Chambermaid Negri holds the key to their survival.”

This is less worth remembering because, while it does bear some similarities to the movie’s plot, they’re no more than similarities. Also less worth remembering is that IMDB renames Vavitch’s character—calling him Tabakowitsch rather than Petroff—with the result that TCMDB and Wikipedia call him Tabakowitsch as well. I suspect he may have Continue reading

Witness for the Prosecution (1982 TVM)

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A very good remake of a classic movie!
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UK, US / 102 minutes / color / United Artists Dir: Alan Gibson Pr: Norman Rosemont Scr: John Gay Story: “Traitor’s Hands” (1925 Flynn’s Weekly) and Witness for the Prosecution (1953 play), both by Agatha Christie, and the screenplay for Witness for the Prosecution (1957) by Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz and Larry Marcus Cine: Arthur Ibbetson Cast: Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Beau Bridges, Donald Pleasence, Wendy Hiller, Diana Rigg, David Langton, Richard Vernon, Peter Sallis, Michael Gough, Frank Mills, Michael Nightingale, Peter Copley, Patricia Leslie, Primi Townsend.

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Christie’s play has been filmed several times. The most famous adaptation is quite clearly Billy Wilder’s 1957 movie Witness for the Prosection, featuring Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Tyron Power and, in what’s effectively an unorthodox version of the femme fatale role, Marlene Dietrich.

Because of the fame of the Wilder adaptation, it’s easy to think it must have been the first. Not so. As far as I can gather, the first movie adaptation was Continue reading

Hostile Witness (1968)

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Can a brilliant lawyer suppress his arrogance long enough to save his own skin?
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UK / 99 minutes / color / Caralan–Dador, UA Dir: Ray Milland Pr: David E. Rose Scr: Jack Roffey Story: Hostile Witness (1965 play) by Jack Roffey Cine: Gerald Gibbs Cast: Ray Milland, Sylvia Syms, Raymond Huntley, Felix Aylmer, Geoffrey Lumsden, Ewan Roberts, Julian Holloway, Norman Barrs, Richard Hurndall, Dulcie Bowman, Ballard Berkeley, Harold Berens, Percy Marmont, Edward Waddy, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Sandra Fehr.

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Devastated when his wife was killed during the Blitz, lawyer Simon Crawford (Milland) and his infant daughter Joanna were taken in by Justice Matthew Gregory (Marmont) and his wife Phyllis (Bowman). Years later, Crawford is a prominent QC and Joanna (Fehr) has grown up to become a lovely young woman.

One evening Crawford is visiting Lady Phyllis to toast her birthday when there’s a screech of brakes outside. Joanna has been knocked down by a hit-and-run driver, and will soon die in the hospital. As you’d expect, Crawford says in front of witnesses that he’ll kill the driver if ever he finds him.

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Crawford (Ray Milland) exchanges banter with daughter Joanna (Sandra Fehr).

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Lady Gregory (Dulcie Bowman) looks down at the scene of the accident.

Spool forward a few weeks. The police have got nowhere in finding the driver—all that the witnesses could report was that Continue reading

Out of the Rain (1991)

US / 95 minutes / color / Acme, Artisan Dir & Pr: Gary Winick Scr: Shem Bitterman Story: Out of the Rain (19?? play, possibly unproduced) by Shem Bitterman Cine: Makoto Watanabe Cast: Bridget Fonda, Michael O’Keefe, John E. O’Keefe, John Seitz, Georgine Hall, Al Shannon, Michael Mantell, Kathleen Chalfant, Mary Mara, Kirk Baltz, Chris Norris. Out of the Rain 1991 - 0 opener In a small town in upper New York State (the movie was actually filmed in Fulton County there), young Jimmy Reade has apparently killed himself with a double-barreled shotgun. His wastrel elder brother Frank (Michael O’Keefe), who left town after a career of hooliganism but who has evidently calmed down a lot while traveling the world, returns to see Jimmy buried and to make some sort of attempt—in the event, extremely brief—to restore relations with his father Nat (Seitz) and mother Tilly (Hall). He starts living in Jimmy’s old trailer, where one night he’s visited as he sleeps by a mysterious young woman who Continue reading

Emil und die Detektive (1931)

vt Emil and the Detectives
Germany / 69 minutes / bw / UFA Dir: Gerhard Lamprecht Pr: Günther Stapenhorst Scr: Billie Wilder (i.e., Billy Wilder) Story: Emil und die Detektive (1929; vt Emil and the Detectives) by Erich Kästner Cine: Werner Brandes Cast: Käthe Haack, Rolf Wenkhaus, Olga Engl, Inge Landgut, Fritz Rasp, Rudolf Biebrach, Hans Joachim Schaufuss, Hans Richter, Hubert Schmitz, Hans Albrecht Löhr, Waldemar Kupczyk, Ernst Eberhard Reling.

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The first screen adaptation of Kästner’s much-loved children’s classic; the novel would be adapted for the screen again in 1935, 1952 (TV miniseries), 1954, 1964 and 2001. (For more on these remakes see below.)

Young Neustadt native Emil Tischbein (Wenkhaus) is sent by his hard-up hairdresser mother Emma (Haack) to Berlin for a holiday with his grandmother. Aboard the train his fellow-passengers include a strange man with a bowler hat (Rasp), later identified as Grundeis, who tells him tall tales about what wonders await him in Berlin—for example, that you can go to any bank and pawn your brain for 1,000 marks, retrieving it later for 1,200; it is, after all, perfectly possible to get by without your brain for a couple of days.

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Emil (Rolf Wenkhaus) chats with a fellow passenger on the train. Continue reading