Fear and Desire (1953)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Kubrick Family, Joseph Burstyn Dir & Pr & Cine: Stanley Kubrick Scr: Howard Sackler Cast: Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Paul Mazursky, Steve Coit, Virginia Leith, David Allen

The first feature movie of Stanley Kubrick, the one that so embarrassed him in later life that he tried to erase it from history. For a long time it was thought the only two copies left in existence were the one held by the Kubrick family and a dreadful video copy. But then in 2010 an original copy was discovered languishing in a film laboratory in Puerto Rico, and this has since been restored by the folks at George Eastman House.

Kubrick dismissed the movie as a “bumbling amateur film exercise” and in a way one can see his point. It was an indie production, produced on the cheap with amateur actors and funded by family members, and that’s in many ways what it plays like. Yet it has points of interest, too, and for those—not just its curio value as Kubrick’s maiden voyage—it’s well worth watching. Continue reading

Black Widow (1954)

US / 95 minutes / color / TCF Dir & Pr & Scr: Nunnally Johnson Story: Black Widow (1952; vt Fatal Woman) by Patrick Quentin Cine: Charles G. Clarke Cast: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, George Raft, Peggy Ann Garner, Reginald Gardiner, Virginia Leith, Otto Kruger, Cathleen Nesbitt, Skip Homeier, Hilda Simms, Mabel Albertson, Harry Carter.

Black Widow 1954 - 0 great use of CinemaScope

A review of this movie that I read a little while ago at the The Passing Tramp blog made me go and look up my film noir encyclopedia to see why I’d left it out. I can see that the decision to do so was a conscious one: I give the movie enough of a mention in the entry on The BLACK WIDOW (1951) to remind me that I watched it and decided (rightly) that its noirish interest was too borderline for me to grant it any more of my precious printed space. Here, though, where the space is limitless . . .

Black Widow 1954 - 1 the encounter at Lottie's party

Peter (Van Heflin) encounters Nancy (Peggy Ann Garner) at a neighbor’s party.

Peter Denver (Heflin)—for some reason Johnson changed the name of author Quentin’s series character Peter Duluth—is a successful Broadway producer; his wife Iris (Tierney) is a celebrated Broadway star. Unfortunately she has to go off to New Orleans for a few weeks to tend to her sick mom. At the airport she makes him swear that he’ll go that night to the party being thrown by Lottie Marin (Rogers), their upstairs neighbor and the star of Peter’s latest hit production, Star Rising. Peter obeys the letter of Iris’s law; seconds after arriving at the party, though, Continue reading