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

The Face of Fear (1971 TVM)

US / 74 minutes / color / QM, CBS Dir: George McCowan Pr: Adrian Samish, Arthur Fellows Scr: Edward Hume Story: Sally (1967) by E.V. Cunningham Cine: Ben Colman Cast: Ricardo Montalban, Jack Warden, Elizabeth Ashley, Dane Clark, Roy Poole, Charles Dierkop, Burr DeBenning, Regis Cordic, Fred Sadoff, Brooke Mills, Dallas Mitchell, Shirley O’Hara, Joel Lawrence, John Yates.

Elizabeth Ashley as Sally.

Based on a novel by Howard Fast (under his E.V. Cunningham pseudonym), this is a riff on a theme that I traced in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir back to a German movie called Der MANN, DER SEINEN MÖRDER SUCHT (1931; vt The Man who Searched for his Own Murder; vt Jim, der Mann mit der Narbe; vt Jim, the Man with the Scar). The premise is that someone, rather than commit suicide, hires a hitman to do away with them—usually for insurance reasons—and then discovers a reason why life is worth living after all. But then the hitman proves impossible to find. Somewhere, out there, he lurks, ready to strike at any moment . . .

Other movies I found that used the premise were 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.

Emil und die D 0 - opener

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.

Emil und die D 2 - Emil chats with a fellow passenger

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

Flirting with Fate (1916)

US / 57 minutes / bw silent / Triangle Dir: W. Christy Cabanne Story: Robert M. Baker Cine: William E. Fildew Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jewel Carmen, Howard Gaye, W.E. Laurence (i.e., W.E. Lawrence), George Beranger, Dorothy Haydel, Lillian Langdon, Wilbur Higby, J.P. McCarty.

While writing the Encyclopedia, I assumed that the first movie to deploy the “depressed man commissions a hitman to kill him, then things start going right and he changes his mind, but how can he stop the hitman?” trope was the early (and excellent) Robert Siodmak outing Der Mann, Der Seinen Mörder Sucht (1931; vt The Man who Searched for his Own Murderer; vt Jim, der Mann mit der Narbe; vt Jim, the Man with the Scar). Luckily I didn’t actually say so, because this Hollywood silent precedes it by fifteen years or so.

Penniless August “Augy” Holliday (Fairbanks), “the hero of this story, an artist by profession, is long on temperament and short on funds. He can draw everything except a salary.” The rent collector (Higby) is after him; perhaps yet more dangerously, the other day, while dodging said rent collector by sketching in the local park, Augy saw “the most beautiful woman in the world”: Gladys (Carmen). The portrait that he has painted of her is, he believes, his best work ever. But how can an impecunious artist woo a society babe like Gladys?

Flirting with Fate 1916 - Augy's first sight of Gladys

Augy’s (Douglas Fairbanks) first sight of the beautiful Gladys (Jewel Carmen).

Luckily Augy has a pal in the rich Harry Hansum (Laurence). Harry gets him some fine clothes, promises him money, and arranges an introduction at Gladys’s home. Augy’s attempts at wooing lack couth, unsettling Gladys; her Auntie (Langdon) has anyway lined her up for suave Roland Dabney (Gaye). Luckily Continue reading