Another Face (1935)

vt It Happened in Hollywood
US / 69 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: Christy Cabanne Assoc Pr: Cliff Reid Scr: Garrett Graham, John Twist Story: Thomas Dugan, Ray Mayer Cine: Jack MacKenzie Cast: Wallace Ford, Brian Donlevy, Phyllis Brooks, Erik Rhodes, Molly Lamont, Alan Hale, Addison Randall, Paul Stanton, Hattie McDaniel, Inez Courtney, Oscar Apfel, Frank Mills, Si Jenks.

“Broken Nose” Dawson (Donlevy) is a murderous gangster recognizable in at least fifty states because of the monstrous schnozzle referred to in his nickname. Accordingly, he gets plastic surgery from illicit physician Dr. H.J. Buler (Apfel) to straighten the nose. Afterwards, as protection, he gets his henchman Muggsie Brown (Mills) to murder the surgeon . . . then narks Muggsie out to the cops so he dies in the proverbial hail of bullets.

Brian Donlevy as Dawson — pre-operation and Oscar Apfel as Dr. Buler

What Dawson doesn’t know is that Muggsie failed to eliminate the nurse who attended on his operation, Mary McCall (Lamont). This will have implications further down the line . . .

Molly Lamont as Nurse Mary McCall

Armed (so to speak) with his new nose, Dawson heads (so to speak) out to Hollywood, where he talks his way into the Zenith Film Studios lot and gets a job on the new movie starring Sheila Barry (Brooks, channeling Bette Davis). It’s obvious Continue reading

Paris After Dark (1943)

|
Love, death, betrayal and sacrifice in occupied Paris!
|

US / 85 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Léonide Moguy Pr: André Daven Scr: Harold Buchman Story: Georges Kessel Cine: Lucien Andriot Cast: George Sanders, Philip Dorn, Brenda Marshall, Madeleine LeBeau, Marcel Dalio, Robert Lewis, Henry Rowland, Gene Gary, Curt Bois, Michael Visaroff, Ann Codee, Jean Del Val, Raymond Roe, John Wengraf.

paris-after-dark-0

Paris is under Nazi occupation. Renowned surgeon Dr. André Marbel (Sanders) and his principal nurse, Yvonne Blanchard (Marshall), née Benoit, are secretly the leaders of an underground movement dedicated to disseminating anti-Nazi propaganda in the form of posters and tracts, especially targeting the workers in the nearby Beaumont car factory, repurposed by the Nazis to build tanks and armored cars. The effort is not without its dangers, as we discover in the movie’s opening moments, when young Victor Durand (Gary) is gunned down summarily by a German soldier for the crime of flyposting.

paris-after-dark-1-yvonne

Yvonne (Brenda Marshall).

We assume at first that André and Yvonne must be lovers, but not so: they’re fond friends, no more. Yvonne lives at home with her mother (Codee), her father Lucien (Del Val) and her kid brother Georges (Roe), who works in the Beaumont factory. Yvonne’s husband Jean (Dorn) was a pillar of the Resistance until his capture and imprisonment three years ago. Now he’s among a hundred sick and broken men being released from the labor camp, to be replaced—although this is not yet public knowledge—by five hundred healthy men from the Beaumont plant.

paris-after-dark-2-jean-one-of-many-sick-camp-prisoners-on-the-train-home-to-paris

Jean (Philip Dorn), just one of many sick and broken camp prisoners on the train home to Paris.

The Benoits are delighted by Jean’s return, Yvonne especially, but soon she and her family discover that Jean has changed drastically, thanks to torture and abuse. He now believes that Nazi triumph is inevitable and that the best way forward is to collaborate with the fascist scheisskopfs and just hope to be left in peace to live as well as one can. When he Continue reading

Seven Thunders (1957)

|
A serial killer in German-occupied Marseilles!
|

vt The Beasts of Marseilles
UK / 96 minutes / bw / Dial, Rank Dir: Hugo Fregonese Pr: Daniel M. Angel Scr: John Baines Story: Seven Thunders (1955) by Rupert Croft-Cooke Cine: John Wilkie Cooper Cast: Stephen Boyd, James Robertson Justice, Kathleen Harrison, Tony Wright, Anna Gaylor, Eugene Deckers, Rosalie Crutchley, Katherine Kath, James Kenney, Anton Diffring, Denis Shaw, George Coulouris, Marcel Pagliero, Gaylord Cavallaro, Leonard Sachs, Martin Miller, Carl Duering, June Cowell, Andreas Malandrinos, Edric Connor, Peter Augustine.

I don’t usually post on a Monday, but today is, according to Aurora and others, National Classic Movie Day (twitterpatable at #NationalClassicMovieDay). So, ever one to leap aboard a passing bandwagon, I bring you this . . .

Seven Thunders - 0 opener

In the book of Revelation, Chapter Ten, there’s reference to seven thunders that “utter their voices”; the title of this movie, then—or more accurately the title of its source novel—refers to matters apocalyptic, and sure enough there’s a small-scale apocalypse served up toward the end when the Germans move in to raze the Old Quarter/Old Port region of Marseilles.

It’s 1943 and the trawlerman Salvatore (Pagliero), a Jean Gabin type with a crusty exterior but a heart of gold, brings to the Old Port slum of Marseilles two escaped British prisoners of war, Dave (Boyd) and Jim (Wright), so they can hide out until a passage can be arranged for them to England.

Seven Thunders - 1 The fisherman Salvatore is a stalwart of the Resistance

The fisherman Salvatore (Marcel Pagliero) is a stalwart of the Resistance.

Very soon they encounter, in the apartment block where they’re hiding, Lise (Gaylor), an orphaned young woman who’s using her wits, among other things, to survive the Nazi Occupation. The first encounters aren’t promising: Dave accidentally Continue reading

Candlelight in Algeria (1944)

UK / 84 minutes / bw / George King, British Aviation, British Lion Dir: George King Pr: John Stafford Scr: Brock Williams, Katherine Strueby, John Clements Story: Dorothy Hope Cine: Otto Heller Cast: James Mason, Carla Lehmann, Raymond Lovell, Enid Stamp Taylor, Walter Rilla, Pamela Stirling, Lea Seidl, Sybilla Binder, Hella Kurty, Paul Bonifas, Leslie Bradley, Harold Berens, Cot D’Ordan, Richard George, Meinhart Maur, Jacques Metadier, Michel Morel, Bart Norman, Richard Molinas, MacDonald Parke, Graham Penley, Albert Whelan.

Candlelight in Algeria - 0 scensetter

Although this is often listed as a war movie, it’s barely more so than, say, CASABLANCA (1942), which was set in roughly the same place, time and circumstances: North Africa; 1942; in theory the war hasn’t yet spread here but in practice the various forces are jostling for advantage preparatory to what they know is coming. It’s odd that two movies so highly dissimilar should share the same basic elements. Continue reading

Hotel Berlin (1945)

vt Vicki Baum’s Hotel Berlin
US / 98 minutes / bw / Warner Dir: Peter Godfrey Pr: Louis F. Edelman Scr: Jo Pagano, Alvah Bessie Story: Hier Stand ein Hotel (1943; vt Hotel Berlin; vt Hotel Berlin ’43; vt Berlin Hotel; vt Here Stood a Hotel) by Vicki Baum Cine: Carl Guthrie Cast: Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, Raymond Massey, Andrea King, Peter Lorre, Alan Hale, George Coulouris, Henry Daniell, Peter Whitney, Helene Thimig, Steven Geray, Kurt Kreuger, Frank Reicher, Richard Tyler, Paul Panzer, Wolfgang Zilzer.

In some ways a companion piece to CASABLANCA (1942), but set in a swanky hotel in Berlin during the final months of the war rather than the somewhat more bohemian environs of Rick’s Café Américain, this surprisingly neglected movie has strengths of its own, not least an electrifying performance from Peter Lorre in a subsidiary role.

The Gestapo has deduced that Dr. Martin Richter (Dantine), an escapee from Dachau, has taken refuge in the Hotel Berlin, and its officers are combing the place in search of him. Also at the hotel are various high-ranking Nazis, including General Arnim von Dahnwitz (Massey) who, although renowned as the butcher of Kharkov, has recently participated in an unsuccessful coup against Hitler; all the other conspirators have suicided or been executed, and even von Dahnwitz’s old and dear friend Baron von Stetten (Daniell) reckons the man should kill himself before the Gestapo hauls him in. Von Dahnwitz, however, believes there’s a chance for him and his mistress, celebrated actress Lisa (or Liesl, as she’s sometimes called in dialogue) Dorn (King), to escape to Sweden.

Hotel Berlin - Raymond Massey as Gen Arnim von Dahnwitz

Raymond Massey as the hapless Gen Arnim von Dahnwitz.

The fugitive Martin Richter has a network of allies among the hotel wait-staff. One of these, Fritz Renn (Reicher), is soon arrested, but not before he has equipped Martin with a waiter’s coat. Fritz believes that, if Martin can contrive to be serving in Lisa’s suite during the search, the chances are that the searchers, dazzled by her fame, will overlook him. The plan works, although Lisa becomes convinced Martin is a Gestapo spy. Another significant ally is Bellboy #6 (Tyler), a child with courage and fortitude beyond his years, the son of underground leader Walter Baumler (Zilzer).

Hotel Berlin - Richter (Dantine) and Prof Koenig

The fugitive Martin Richter (Helmut Dantine) and the world-weary turncoat Professor Koenig (Peter Lorre).

The resident of the room next to Lisa’s suite is one-time Nobel prizewinner Professor Johannes Koenig (Lorre), who Continue reading

Dead Man Down (2013)

US / 118 minutes / color / FilmDistrict, IM Global, WWE Studios, Original, Frequency Dir: Niels Arden Oplev Pr: Neal Moritz, J.H. Wyman Scr: J.H. Wyman Cine: Paul Cameron Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, Luis Da Silva Jr., Wade Barrett, Franky G., Declan Mulvey, John Cenatiempo, Roy James Wilson Jr., Myles Humphus, Stephen Hill, Aaron Vexler, James Biberi, F. Murray Abraham, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Beata Alexandra Dalton, Accalia Quintana, Saul Stein, Armand Assante, Robert Vataj.

Two years ago, on June 17, Delphine (Quintana), the little daughter of Hungarian immigrants Anka (Dalton) and Laszlo Kerick (Farrell), was killed by a stray bullet as the thugs of racketeer landlord Alphonse Hoyt (Howard) attempted to clear the tower block in which they lived. Anka and Laszlo were determined to help the DA bring the hoodlums to justice, but Alphonse hired an Albanian gang led by Ilir Brozi (Biberi) to murder them. Ilir’s mob succeeded in killing Anka and, they thought, Laszlo; but in fact Laszlo survived.

Now, having taken the name Victor, Laszlo has, with the aid of Anka’s uncle, Gregor (Abraham), succeeded in infiltrating Alphonse’s crew. (As Sam Juliano has pointed out, Victor Laszlo is the name of Paul Henreid’ character in CASABLANCA [1942].) He’s secretly playing a cat-and-mouse game with Alphonse, sending him photographs of Alphonse’s hoods with their eyes crossed out, plus small cut squares from another photograph with the obvious implication that, jigsaw-pieced together, these will reveal the identity of Alphonse’s tormentor and the reason for the torment. Alphonse sets his henchman Paul (Vexler) to trying to find out who’s behind the unsettling campaign. Paul deduces the guilty party is Victor and confronts him in the latter’s apartment but, before he can tell anyone else, Victor strangles him.

Dead Man Down 2013 - Beatrice explains her deal to Victor

Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) explains her deal to Victor.

Unknown to Victor, this crime was witnessed by Beatrice Louzon (Rapace), who lives with her mother Valentine (Huppert) in the Continue reading