Il regista ebreo Mano Kertesz Kaminer, nato in Ungheria,
dovette abbandonare la patria al crollo del regime di
Bela Kun e riparo` in Austria sotto lo pseudonimo di Michael Curtiz.
Diresse film anche in
Germania prima di emigrare (1925) in America e diventare uno dei registi più prolifici di
Dotato di un'impressionante abilità nel confezionare film di
successo, fu un regista popolare, capace di stravolgere la realtà pur di divertire, capace di creare
miti e leggende, capace di cimentarsi in tutti i generi nell'arco di trent'anni:
horror films, such as
The Mad Genius (1931), loosely based on
George du Maurier's novel "Trilby",
permeated of German romanticism and expressionism,
In a small town of Central Europe the owner of an itinerant puppet show,
Vladimir, is fascinated by a barefoot boy who watches his show under the rain
and then has to run away like a goat when his father arrives furious to beat
him up. The boy, Fedor, hides in Vladimir's tent
Vladimir makes a living out of wooden puppets, but his dream was the ballet,
the human puppets, a dream that eluded him because he was crippled since
He thus decides to turn Fedor into a great ballet, and
he succeeds: Fedor becomes a sensation of the greatest opera houses.
Vladimir totally engineers Fedor's life, even deciding which girls he sleeps
with. He is concerned when Fedor falls in love with another
ballet dancer, Nana, and sets out to disrupt their friendship.
He blackmails the director of the troupe, a drug addict, to sign a letter
in which he requires the firing of Nana. He then tells Nana that she should
work in a place where only beauty matters (basically, become a prostitute)
and not interfere with the career of Fedor. Fedor overhears him and confronts
him. Vladimir confesses that he is living his dream through Fedor, but love
prevails and Fedor decides to leave with the girl.
The two lovers move to Paris, where Fedor has to work in a cabaret because
Vladimir's long arm has made sure that no ballet will hire him.
Nana gives up: she begs Vladimir to hire Fedor back. Vladimir asks her to not
only leave Fedor but to take a new lover: it's the only way to make sure that
Fedor will forget her. Nana, desperate to do what is best for Fedor, accepts
and takes the train with a count. Vladimir re-hires Fedor. The count takes
Nana to watch Fedor's performance. Fedor see her crying and realize that she
still loves him. During the interval, Fedor tells Vladimir that he does not
intend to dance the second act. Vladimir threatens to kill him if he
doesn't go out when the curtain rises. As Fedor reenters the stage,
the drug-addicted director, who has lost control of his mind, kills Vladimir
with an axe. His performance is interrupted abruptly when a curtain is lifted
and the dead body of Vladimir appears on a giant mask. The audience panicks
and leaves, but Nana runs to Fedor.
Doctor X (1932) straddles the border between comedy and horror.
A goofy reporter, Lee, is taking a walk at night by the docks where a number of
murders have been committed. He sees police activity and a doctor,
Xavier, taken into a building, but the cops don't give him any information.
The doctor is examining a victim and tells the inspector that the murderer
strangled the victim and then also ate a piece of its head. The inspector
is puzzled that all murders were committed on a night of full moon.
The police suspect a member of Xavier's profession because of the knife that
has been used. Xavier begs them to let him investigate in secret, so that
the publicity will not harm his category. The goofy Lee has been listening, disguised
as one of the corpses. Xavier takes the investigators for a tour of his
research facility. A number of eccentric scientists work at Xavier's building,
and each of them has something that could make him a potential suspect
(a scholar of cannibalism, a scholar of moon effects and so forth).
Lee climbs the external stairs to spy on what they are doing and is caught
in the act by Xavier's beautiful daughter Joan.
He tries to resign from the case but the boss instead sends him back to gather
pictures of Xavier and his daughter. Joan catches him again in the act.
Determined to find out if the murderer is one of his scientists, Xavier
devises an experiment that consists in reenacting the last murder,
and asks all of his peers to submit to it.
Lee enters the building again in his goofy way and listens from a closet of
skeletons. However, someone blows sleeping gas into the closet and he loses
consciousness. Meanwhile the experiment fails miserably: the complex chemical
reaction devised by Xavier points to a scientist as the criminal, but that
scientist is precisely the one who gets killed when the lights go off.
Xavier finds Lee and is worried that he might telephone the story to the
newspaper. Joan talks Lee into staying for the night. Xavier is running out
of time and comes up with another experiment, that consists in offering his
own daughter to excite the imagination of the murderer.
Otto, his faithful and handicapped assistant, is supposed to prepare the stage,
while the scientists are chained to their chairs. Xavier's male servant is
supposed to play the murderer. However, Otto turns out to be the murderer:
he has discovered a chemical reaction that turns him into a monster. He
kills the servant and takes his place. Joan realizes that the man playing
the murderer is not the servant but a horrible monster and screams for help,
but the scientists are chained and cannot do anything.
Lee jumps in just in time to stop the murderer and throw a lamp into his face
and then push the burning body down from a window.
Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933),
Igor, a foreign master of wax statues, has created an impressive collection.
Unfortunately the investor is losing money on his museum and has devised a
way to get his money back: a fire insurance. If the whole museum goes up in
a fire, the insurance will pay back what he invested.
Igor tries in vain to stop him.
Years later a man with a disfigured face steals corpses from the morgue.
Florence, a lively and attractive reporter, investigates the suicide of a girl.
She follows the cops to the morgue where they want to examine the corpse,
but then they discover that the corpse has been stolen.
The cops decide that it was murder and arrest the girl's boyfriend, the son of
a tycoon, and Florence promptly interviews the young man, Winton.
Igor has started work on a new museum, but, after the fire, he is condemned
to a wheelchair and has lost his hands. He therefore has hired a number
of assistants, including a sinister professor and a handsome young man, Ralph.
It turns out that Ralph is engaged to
Florence's roommate Charlotte. One day Florence follows Charlotte to
the wax laboratory and is surprised to see a statues that is virtually
identical to the murdered girl, a statue that has been made by he sinister
professor. Igor is annoyed by the nosy Florence but mesmerized by Charlotte,
who looks just like his favorite statue that burned in the fire, the statue
of a French queen. Florence goes back to her newspaper and tells her boss
that she suspects the wax museum is using real corpses to create the statues.
She enrolls the help of the tycoon's son, Winton, and the couple follows the
sinister professor to his adobe. Florence sees a man with a disfigured face
(the same one who stole the corpse from the morgue) and is convinced that
the corpse is kept there. Florence runs outside and calls the cops, but the
cops only find a box full of illicit alcohol. However, the cops arrest
the sinister professor, who is a drug addict, and they realize that he is
hiding something. While the cops interrogate the professor, Charlotte visits
Igor about being the model for the French queen. Igor takes her to a secret
room and then... gets up from the wheelchair. He can walk and he tries to
seize her. She beats him on the face and the face cracks: it is just a mask
that hides his disfigured face (he is the monster that stole the corpse from
the morgue). At the same time the professor at the police station
breaks down and confesses: the whole wax museum is just a morgue, all the
statues are cadavers dipped in wax. Igor personally kills the people he needs.
At the museum Igor himself is telling Charlotte the same story, showing her
the waxes corpse of the very man who ruined him by setting fire to the old
museum. Charlotte faints and Igor is about to wax her when Florence and
Ralph hear the scream. Ralph rushes to help her but is knocked unconscious
by Igor. Florence calls the police and they arrive just in time to stop
Igor. Igor tries to escape but is shot dead, and falls into a cauldron
of hot wax. Florence reports back to her boss and, when he proposes, she
accepts, leaving Winton downstairs to wait for her.
20000 Years in Sing Sing (1932) is a prison drama
Tommy (Spencer Tracy) is a convict in a maximum-security penitentiary.
His influential friends try in vain to get clemency for him. The prison's
warden cannot be bribed. Tommy behaves like the tough guy but eventually time
takes a toll on him and he begins to accept the rules of the penitentiary.
His main consolation is his faithful girlfriend Fay (Bette Davis).
He even refuses to join a jailbreak that is doomed to fail.
The warden starts believing him, and the two begin to respect each other.
When a telegram announces that Fay is dying following a car accident,
the warden is compassionate enough to grant Tommy a day leave so he can go
and see her before she dies. Tommy gets to the hospital and learns from
Fay that she got injured when she jumped out of the car of the influential
friend who was supposed to save Tommy. Now this man wants to buy Fay's silence
and walks into the room to pay Fay a huge sum. Tommy attacks him. They fight.
Tommy is about to get killed. Fay shoots and kills the evil gentleman.
Tommy has no choice: he flees. The police assume that Tommy
committed the murder and launches a manhunt. Back at the penitentiary, the
warden has staked his career on Tommy's word that he would be back by midnight.
When Tommy does not show up, the newspapers destroy the warden's reputation.
Tommy has already made arrangements to board a steamer and leave the country,
but he surprises everybody by returning to the penitentiary and honoring his
word. The warden's reputation is vindicated, but Tommy is sentenced to the
electric chair for the murder. Fay tries in vain to explain that she is the
real killer: nobody is interested in the truth. Tommy dies on the electric
The Strange Love Of Molly Louvain (1932) melodrama
The Cabin In The Cotton (1932)
The cotton pickers are treated like slaves by the plantation owners. One of
them is aging and is dreaming that his son Marvin can go to school and have
a better life. The plantation owner orders him to call Marvin back, but
the old man dies and Madge (Bette Davis), the owner's daughter, convinces her father to let
Marvin study. Marvin quickly become the owner's right-hand man in the general
store, and even courted by Madge. The owner suspects that the sharecroppers
are stealing cotton, and the sharecroppers, led by his uncle, tell Marvin that the owner is
cheating them. Now Marvin is torn between two women (the poor and simple Betty
versus the rich spoiled Madge) as well as between two camps (his employer versus
his family and friends).
The argument between owner and sharecroppers escalates. When the owner's posse
catches a thief, who happens to be a friend of Marvin, they hang him in the
woods under his eyes. Then the sharecroppers set fire to the owner's store.
He fears he is ruined because all the books are burned, but he is saved by
Marvin who has made a copy of the accounts. Those accounts document the debts
of the sharecroppers or, from the sharecropper's viewpoint, the owner's
cheating. Marvin is clearly reluctant to
help the owner after what happened in the woods and never quite recovers from
the shock, despite Madge's cheerful attentions.
His uncle's sons are arrested for the fire and the theft of the books.
His uncle begs Marvin to destroy the copy he made of the books, an act that
would release the sharecroppers from their bondage.
Marvin can't find the strength to take sides in the dispute.
His uncle reminds him that even Marvin's own father was cheated by the owner,
cheated and exploited until he died.
Marvin goes back to the owner's house and checks the book: sure enough, the
owner cheated his father too. Marvin walks out of the mansion, in vain
implored by both the owner (who needs him for his business) and Madge (who
needs him because she has never been denied anything she wanted). Confused,
he still can't take side. The local attorney advises him to call for a meeting
between sharecroppers and owners. At the meeting Marvin admits the guilt of
the sharecroppers but also denounces the owner's unfair methods. The owner
still refuses to sign a new lease granting the sharecroppers a more fair
treatment until Marvin threatens to turn him in for his accounting crimes.
They all shake hands and a new era of cooperation begins.
The humble Betty is proud of him, and Marvin chooses Betty over the aristocratic
The very minor noir films
The Keyhole (1933) and
Anne, a woman married to a rich man is being blackmailed by her former husband,
who never filed the papers for the divorce. She asks her sister in law for
advice, and she advises her to leave the country so that the blackmailer
would follow her. Then they will make sure that the man, a foreigner, is never
allowed to return to the USA. Anne asks her husband for a vacation in Cuba and
he grants it. But he has long been suspicious of her movements and hires
a detective to seduce her (as a test of her faithfulness). The detective tries
his best and seems to fail repeatedly, but eventually he truly falls in love
and she begins to warm up to his devotion. Just then the sister tells Anne's
husband the truth. Feeling guilty, the husband flies to Cuba giving the
detective only a few minutes notice. The detective decides to confess his true
identity to Anne. Maurice walks in to demand his money. The detective threatens
to have him arrested. The husband knocks at the door. Maurice walks out of
the window and falls to his death. The husband walks in and Anne kisses the
detective in front of him: she is disgusted that he didn't trust her and
sent a man to seduce her. The detective stands by the woman and the husband
Private Detective 62 (1933) told the same story.
Anne marries a millionaire, Schnyler, but is blackmailed by her previous
The millionaire's sister Portia is on her side and helps her devise a scheme to
get rid of the blackmailer. However, the scheme causes the husband to suspect
she is being unfaithful. So he hires a private eye, Neil, and sends him after her.
The private eye falls in love with Anne, and soon she falls in love with him.
The very brief Female (1933) was unusual in that it had a female
industry manager as the protagonist. The film first defends the
amoral independent woman as a heroine (who never really has to apologize
for all the casual sex she's had), but then shows her conversion to domestic
life. It was also one of his best fast-paced comedies.
At the board meeting Alison, the president of a car-manufacturing company,
is upset that sales are not increasing. She asks the young new manager Cooper
to meet her for dinner to explain his advertisement plan (but she seems mostly
interested in his looks). During her busy day
an old friend from school comes to visit, Harriet, and Alison invites her
to stay at her house. Harriet is married with children, whereas Alison admits
to have lost the romantic passion of her youth. She later flirts with Cooper,
gets him drunk and they make love. The following morning, though, she behaves
as if nothing happened. It's business as usual. In fact, there's another man
who is protesting his love for her, and she has him transferred to another
city. She reproaches Cooper for sending her flowers, although she also orders
the controller to pay him a bonus. Later, she is struck
by a young designer and invites him to dinner at her place... Her secretary
(an old man) is actually proud of her because he views her as a honest person,
surrounded by hypocrites. She has casual sex with her attractive employees
and then pays them a bonus, but at least she does not pretend to be a saint,
and does not fall for the many who would love to marry her for her money.
From her secretary's viewpoint, the man who deserves her hasn't showed up yet.
At another board meeting Alison learns of a bright inventor who could solve
the company's problems. She is determined to steal him from the competition.
Alison throws a party at her house, but she soon gets bored of all the business
men who treat her like a business plan. She sneaks out and looks for excitement
at an amusement park. She meets a handsome man who takes her to a ballroom.
At the end of the evening, she is ready to have sex with him as usual, but he
tells her he's not interested in girls like her, and two prostitutes who
overheard them laugh at her. Surprisingly, they meet again at her factory.
He has just been hired and doesn't know who she is. She suddenly realizes
that he is Jim, the inventor. She invites him to her office, where he finally
realizes who she is. And she invites him again to her house to discuss his
inventionover dinner, knowing that this time he cannot decline the invitation.
She tries the usual technique, but this time to no avail: he is only interested
in discussing his work.
The following day she even hires a detective to follow Jim and find out how
he spends his spare time. Furious, she walks into Jim's office and invites
him to dinner. Jim politely declines, because he has a date with a girl.
Depressed, Alison asks her old secretary for advice. Her secretary invites
Jim to a company picnic, when in fact it's just a date between Jim and Alison.
This offers Alison a chance to present her feminine side, and she finally
succeeds. Jim is the first man who can enter her office on "the day after".
Jim is the serious type, though: now that they had sex, he wants to get
married. Unlike the other men, who swallowed up their humiliation, Jim tells
her she is pathetic and quits his job right away.
Alison goes back to business as usual, but her mind is elsewhere.
At an important meeting she gets hysterical and leaves the office.
She finds out where Jim went and follows him, stopping to ask people
if they saw his car. Finally she finds him at another amusement park and
accepts his marriage proposal. He realizes that she has abandoned her company
on the day when it could go bankrupt. He decides to rush back in town to
dave the company. She tells him that it's now his business because she intends
to become just a housewife and a mother.
The Key/ British Agent (1934) is a boring and uneventful historical melodrama.
In 1917 the British are concerned about the effects of the political crisis in
Russia on World War I and decide to send a special envoy to Russia, Steven.
The Russian government reassures the foreign governments that there will be
Instead the revolution does happen while an aristocratic ball is going on at
the British embassy. The British agent protects a woman who takes
refuse in the embassy, Elena. After the revolution he meets her again: she
is now a friend of the head of the Russian secret police.
She defends Russia's right to make peace with Germany. Steven is only interested
in Britain winning the war against Germany. He falls in love with her.
But she is more faithful to her country than to him and tells the Russian
government that his promises of an alliances are not backed by London.
He strives to get official backing from London. Instead Britain begins
hostilities against Russia without even telling him: it's Elena who brings
him the news. They decide not to see each other again. After
TRussia signs a separate peace with Germany, Steven's personal mission becomes
to induce them to go to war again. He is approached by the rebels who are
trying to overthrow the Soviet government. They want money to seize power
and promise that they will restart the war against Germany. The Soviet
government learns of the plot and needs evidence to arrest Steven.
Stalin asks Elena to fabricate that evidence for them.
Elena obeys but then confesses to Steven and begs him to leave Russia.
When Lenin is almost assassinated, Steven sees an opportunity for the
rebels. But Stalin decides to use brutal methods to suppress the revolt:
the British consulate is demolished, members of the plot are executed,
and Steven is now a wanted man in hiding.
She betrays him one more time, telling Stalin where he is with all the
ammunitions for the rebels. Stalin orders the police to blow up the place.
Minutes before the order is carried out, she goes to visit Steven, determined
to be blown up with him. But at the last minute they are saved by a miracle:
Lenin recovers and the news sends millions of people celebrating in the streets
and deprives Stalin of the power to pursue his terror. Steven and Elena can
leave together on a train.
Mandalay (1934) is a brief and amateurish exotic film noir.
the fat and wealthy Nick offers an arm-smuggling job to yacht owner and adventurer Tony. Tony has a new girlfriend, a naive Russian girl who is sincerely in
love with him. But, pressured, Tony decides to dump Tanya and take Nick's offer.
Nick forces Tanya to become the main hostess in his decadent club. Initially
she refuses but soon she becomes the most cynical of woman. This gets her into
trouble with the authorities, concerned that she is destroying the life of
too many young men. She is ordered to leave town (but she first manages to
blackmail the very colonel who expels her). Having saved enough money from
prostitution and blackmail, she can travel on a steamboat as a lady. On the
boat she meets Gregory, a drunk doctor who is on his way to a "suicide mission"
(a highly-contagious epidemics).
Two failed and lonely people, they like each other, Tony shows up.
He has lost everything and is wanted by the police, and wants her back.
She refuses. He hides in the machine room and fakes a suicide by poison.
She is briefly suspected of murder but the doctor stands by her.
She has to confess her past of prostitute to the doctor.
He tells her that he loves her. They decide to rebuild a future together.
But Tony is very much alive and is planning a different future for her:
back to the brothel. She grabs the poison that Tony pretended to have swallowed
and this time pours it in his glass for real. He falls overboard (thus his
body will never be found). She is free. They arrive in Mandalay and disembark
Front Page Woman (1935) is a lightweight screwball comedy about rival
reporters. The plot sustains a bit of suspense until the end, when it falls
flat into a trivial ending.
Ellen is one of the reporters who are waiting to cover the execution of
showgirl Mabel, the headline of the day. She is teased by fellow competing
reporter Curt, who tells her that the show of an execution is not for a woman.
Sure enough Ellen faints after the execution. Curt is kind enough to cover for
her and send her newspaper the story (although the two newspapers come out with
the same article), but Ellen's coworkers and bosses draw the conclusion that
a female reporter just cannot do the same job of a man. Later Curt proposes to
her and asks her to quit her job to become just a wife. Ellen proudly swears
that she can do anything he can do. They bet.
The chance comes soon. They both rush to
a fire. She is not admitted inside by the police, he is. She writes about a
fire. He writes about a fire and a missing celebrity: one of the city's most
famous men went missing. She is humiliated, but then remember that she heard
two men walk into a taxi, and one of them had the name of the celebrity. She
investigates and finds out that the celebrity died at the hospital of stab
wounds. She also remembers that the two men were talking of a girl who sneaked
out the back door. The following day it is Curt's turn to be humiliated when
he reads her article.
Curt investigates the perfume that the celebrity had bought for a girl and
finds out that the dead man and another celebrity, a sportsman, were competing
for the heart of the same showgirl, Inez. Both the sportsman and the girl were
with the dead man the night of the fire. The sportsman is arrested but the
girl has disappeared. Ellen finds her first and publishes an exclusive interview
with Inez. Inez claims that neither her nor the sportsman stabbed the celebrity.
They simply fled the building when the fire broke out. Curt finds the knife used
to stab the victim and wins another round against Ellen. The sportsman is
indicted for the murder. At the trail Curt spies on the jury and then calls
his newspaper to announce the verdict of guilty. He also tricks Ellen into
believing the opposite, so she calls her newspaper to announce the verdict
of not guilty. Ellen is fired when the jury reads her verdict, but the judge
sends Curt to jail for spying on the jury. Ellen meets Inez in a bar and gets
a confession from her: it was Inez who killed the celebrity. Ellen visits
Curt in jail with a copy of her newspaper announcing that she solved the case.
The Walking Dead (1936) is a horror movie in which a framed man comes back from the dead to seek revenge.
A judge finds the courage to convict a wealthy and influential man, despite
several death threats. The friends of the man decide to eliminate the judge,
who is on a crusade to clean up the city. They find a way to frame a recently
released convict, John, a gentle musician who was sentenced by the same judge
to ten years for killing his wife: John is hired to spy on the judge (which
makes it look like he was stalking the judge) and then two gangsters dump
the dead judge into his car. A couple sees the gangsters plant the corpse into
John's car but run away for fear of getting involved. They work as assistants
of an elderly professor in a chemical laboratory. At the trial, John is
"defended" by an attorney who is part of the plan to frame him for the murder.
Needless to say, John is sentenced to death. He keeps hoping that the couple
will show up and clear him of the murder. Upon hearing that has been sentenced
to death, the couple decides to speak up. They call the attorney when there
are only a few hours left, but the attorney makes sure to waste enough time
for the execution to be carried out anyway.
The couple, that feels guilty, help the professor experiment on the dead man.
The professor succeeds in bringing him back to life. John does not seem to
remember anything, but he seems to be endowed with the supernatural power to
tell good from evil. He now hates his attorney, and reacts the same way against
the other distinguished members of the racket, while he respects the very
district attorney who sent him to electric chair. The
district attorney figures out the truth: knowing that John's attorney is the
brain of the racket, he realizes that John was probably framed for the murder
of the judge. The members of the racket decide to kill John, but it is instead
John who starts killing the members of the racket, one by one. The attorney is
the last one still alive, and manages to shoot John, just when the doctor had
decided to operate on him in order to bring back the memory of when he was dead
(and despite the fact that the operation would kill John). The professor's
motive for helping John does not sound much more ethical than the attorney's
motive for framing him.
The attorney dies as he is driving away.
John is dying. The professor is only interested in finding out what happens
in the otherworld, which now John can remember well, and how could John know
that the racketeers were evil men, but John dies before he can tell anything.
The Sea Wolf (1941) is an adaptation of Jack London's book.
Roughly Speaking (1945), based on a novel by Louise Randall Pierson,
returns to the theme of the independent woman first sketched in
Female, although this time it was as a head of the family, not as
a decadent single, and the setting is that of a multi-generational epic.
However it is an overlong, predictable and superficial film, following
the family from one boring misadventure to the next one.
a wealthy aristocrat dies. After the funeral his wife finds out that he was
broke. She has to sell the colossal mansion to pay the bills. And she has
to pawn the jewelry to send her daughter Louise to a college where girls
are trained to become perfect secretaries (notably to use typewriters).
Louise is bright and funny but her unorthodox attitude gets her in trouble
in that puritan chauvinist society. She shocks her first employer when she
proves to him that she can indeed do jobs usually reserved to men such as
typing. She needs the money to support her
business studies at a prestigious university.
She shares a room with another girl, Alice, and meets a student who lives in the
same house, Rodney, the son of a banker.
Louise and Rodney fall in love, get married and move to New York.
They have four children but World War I wipes out their savings.
After the war they move to a house in the countryside.
There the children catch a contagious disease (polio) that leaves the daughter
paralyzed. Louise, determined to make her walk again, doesn't shed a single
tear. When her husband announces that he has lost his job, she is not concerned
at all. A recession has caused the collapse of all banks, but she has
faith that they can go through it. She finds a job while he looks for a new
one. Rodney is a changed man. He comes home later
and later. It becomes obvious that he has an affair with another woman.
The day he finds a job it would be a cause for celebration, but that day he
announces that he wants to marry his lover.
One night at a party Louise meets a funny character, Harold. He falls in
a pond, and she follows him. For the first time in her life she can be crazy.
They fall in love, get married, have a child. In the meantime the economy
booms and they benefit from it. When the economy collapses though, they
lose everything: house and furniture. They drive to another town, where
Harold finds employment as a mechanic of airplanes and becomes partner
with his employer to build a new plane. They succeed and buy a new house.
But, yet again, the recession hits, and this time it's the Great Depression.
They are strong and survive, though. They have to move to a humble apartment
and Harold becomes a traveling salesman of vacuum cleaners. Then things get
better again when Harold finds a better job. The children have grown up.
They are all celebrating Louise's birthday when war breaks out. She works as
a secretary and Harold as a worker in a factory when the two oldest boys are
summoned to military duties. And the third one, still a teenager, begs his
parents to let him enlist too.
Life With Father (1947) was adapted from the play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse,
The Unsuspected (1947) is a film noir and a thriller with expressionist
overtones, wrapped in the most sinister lighting.
It has a very complex and cunning plot, and it ranks as one of Curtiz's
best films, even though the happy ending is ridiculously amateurish.
In the dark a man walks into the room where a secretary, Rosalyn, is on the phone with
a wife who inquires about her husband, calling from a night club.
The secretary screams, the mysterious man kills her.
The wife exits the phone booth and tells her chaperon that everything is fine,
despite having heard the scream. The killer hangs his victim from the chandelier,
to make it look like suicide. We briefly see his face reflected upside down
on the surface of the desk.
The following day Jane,
the assistant of a famous radio host, Victor, specializing in mystery stories,
reads the news of the suicide in the newspaper: the victim was Victor's own
secretary, who was working in his very mansion.
During his show the radio host tells the story of a man who got away with
murder making it look like suicide.
One night Althea, Victor's niece, is throwing a surprise birthday party for him.
The niece is the woman who called from the night club.
A young man arrives unexpected. He knows her but confesses that Victor has
never met him, and does not answer what he wants of him.
The niece's husband, Oliver, is a drunkard who spends all the time glued to the bar.
The new guest is fascinated by the portrait of a woman.
Althea tells him that it was painted by her husband and that the woman was
Victor's ward, Mathilda, who died a month earlier in a boat accident.
The man reveals that he is Mathilda's husband, and that he knows that Mathilda
was in love with her husband before she married him. The moment she clarifies
that there is no connection between Mathilda's accident the secretary's suicide
it is clear that Mathilda's husband suspects there is a connection.
As Victor walks into the house and is cheered by the guests, Mathilda's husband
is at work investigating the room where the secretary hanged herself.
One of the guests is actually the police detective, Richard.
At the end of the party Victor meets the young visitor, Steven, who explains that
he was married to Mathilda just days before the tragic accident and his only
desire is to find something to keep as a dear memory of her, namely the
portrait. Victor, who was initially worried that the young man would laid
claim to Mathilda's vast fortune, grants him the portrait and invites him
to stay for the night. Richard checks Steven's story and finds out that he
is the son of an oil tycoon.
Althea, clearly a frustrated and unfaithful wife, is trying to seduce Steven
when Victor receives a telegram from... Mathilda. She is alive and she is
flying back from Brazil, after having been rescued at sea and having been
very sick. Steven volunteers to pick her up at the airport. Mathilda does
not recognize him and does not remember getting married.
MAthilda suspects that Steven invented the marriage to get her money, but
he quickly dispels that notion by proving that he has at least as much money
and is more than willing to annul the marriage if she wishes so.
A man comes to visit Victor and threatens to kill him. It turns out that Victor
has used this man's story of a murder disguised as a suicide for his radio show.
He has a recording of the man's confession to him. But he reassures the murderer
that his interest is purely "clinical".
Mathilda returns home and meets Althea, who cannot hide her jealousy:
she (Althea) married a penniless drunkard, Oliver, whereas Mathilda married a
tycoon, Steven. The fact that Althea stole Oliver from Mathilda only makes
things worse for Althea.
Steven tells Victor that Mathilda does not remember their marriage.
Oliver asks Steven to be less attractive to his wife.
The nicest person in the mansion is Jane, the lively secretary, the only one
who is not a member of the family.
Mathilda is happy to see Victor again. It turns out that Victor's mansion
is Mathilda's mansion: she inherited it from her father. Victor tells her
that he does not believe Steven. Victor thinks that Steven has invented
the whole story for some obscure purpose.
Later, though, Victor searches Steven's belongings and finds a photo of
Mathilda that she autographed for him, proof that she knew him and loved him.
Steven, in the meantime, is on to something, helped by Jane, who tells him
she doesn't believe that Rosalyn committed suicide.
(At the mansion Mathilda is told of Rosalyn's "suicide" and we see her
from the viewpoint of someone hanging from the chandelier).
Richard the detective, tipped by Steven, returns to the mansion and explains
to Victor that Rosalyn did not commit suicide (we see Victor's reflection on
the surface of the desk) and that the phone record shows
that someone made a call when she was killed: the mystery is why the person who
made the call never said anything to the police.
Althea tries again to seduce Steven and tells him that she was happy when
Mathilda was dead. Steven tells her that Rosalyn did not commit suicide.
Althea is not surprised: she confesses that she was on the phone with Rosalyn
and heard her scream. SHe thinks that Victor killed Rosalyn. She also tells him
that she married Oliver because Victor wanted to break up Mathilda's engagement
to him. It is all about Mathilda's money.
Victor is eavesdropping on them.
Oliver, having seen his wife try to kiss Steven and being himself still in
love with Mathilda, announces that he is leaving. Victor secretely tapes their
conversation in which he threatens to kill her.
Then he locks Althea in a soundproof room, coldly starts the recorder again,
pulls out a revolver and murders her. Then he sabotages Oliver's car, puts the
revolver into the pocket of Oliver's jacket and bids Oliver farewell as he
leaves the house.
In the meantime Steven is warning Mathilda against Victor. She is obviously
in mortal danger. Victor needs her death in order to keep his rich lifestyle.
Victor plays the recording of Oliver and Althea arguing while he runs to
Mathilda's room asking for help. Steven and Mathilda follow him to the studio
and they hear Althea's scream and the revolver's shot. Then they walk into the
room and find Althea's body. The window is open. Oliver is gone. It seems
obvious that Oliver killed Althea and fled. Except that Steven sees Victor
putting away a record in a bookcase. Victor calls the police that launch
a car chase. Oliver would like to break and stop but the breaks do not
respond. The car plunges down a cliff and he dies. The police find the revolver
in his pocket. The case is closed.
After the funeral, though, Steven finds a way to approach Mathilda and warn
her one more time against Victor's schemes. Steven suspects that Victor
killed them all: Rosalyn, Althea, Oliver. He also confesses that he was never
her husband. He is a childhood friend of Rosalyn, deterrmined to find out how
she died, and impersonating Mathilda's husband was a way to get into the
mansion. Mathilda is naive and sincerely attached to Victor. She tells
Victor everything. Victor senses that she loves Steven, nonetheless, and
says he would not object if one day they decided to get married. Mathilda
is reassured and grateful.
Victor pretends to be working on a new script and asks
Mathilda to write it down: those are the words of a character who has just
lost two close relatives and is about to commit suicide...
Mathilda does not sense the danger (she is basically writing her own suicide
note). Steven arrives just in time to prevent Victor from carrying out the
Victor calls the man whose confession he has on record and whom he can
blackmail, and has him kill Steven and take him away in a trunk.
He then poisons Mathilda and pulls out the very note that Mathilda herself wrote.
It's another perfect crime.
However, the police arrive in time to save Mathilda and magically figure out
that Steven is in a car driven at high speed by his murderer towards a junkyard
where he dumps the trunk.
Richard and Mathilda manage to arrive in time at the junkyard to save the
trunk from being annihilated. Victor is about to go on the air and begin
another of his strange tales when they all enter his studio, including Steven
who was still alive. Understanding that his criminal career is over, Victor
confesses to his audience that he was the "unsuspected".
The ending is implausible and poorly assemebled.
Romance On The High Seas (1948) is a romantic comedy and musical
set on a Caribbean cruise ship.
Flamingo Road (1949), based upon a play by Robert and Sally Wilder,
is centered on another strong-headed woman, an activist who fights a corrupt
politician. The woman has the typical story and role of a femme fatale
but uses her position and skills for the exact opposite end.
The gloomy atmosphere belongs to film noir, though, as does the crowd of
crooks, almost a Dantesque inferno.
There is a secondary theme too: the sheriff hates the woman because she
(honest but not respectable)
represents the exact opposite of the class that has ruled the country (corrupt
but respectable people). His political crusade becomes a crusade against her.
Lane (Joan Crawford) is performing her belly-dancer act in a carnival show
when it starts raining. Backstage the owner of the act is threatened by the
investor who wants his money back. The owner tells his troope to pack everything
and be ready to leave town. The sheriff of the town, Titus, is an old fat corrupt
man who lives in a big mansion. He sends his deputy Fielding to serve the papers
to the owner of Lane's act. On the way Fielding has to face his sweet fiance
Annabelle, who complains of being neglected. Her father thinks that Fielding
should finish law school before he can deserve her. They live on Flamingo Road,
the road of the rich and influential families.
When Fielding gets to the
carnival show, he finds an empty tent. But one girl has decided to stay behind,
Lane. She is tired of running. Fielding invites her to eat something at the
cafe, where the sheriff is also dining and where the waitress Millie if a
friend of his. Fielding talks to the restaurant owner, Pete, and Lane gets hired
as a waitress to help the friendly Millie. On the other hand, the sheriff
stares at the girl and then talks to her in an unfriendly manner. When
political boss Dan comes to town to decide who will be the next senator,
the sheriff tells Fielding that he his the nominee and openly advises to get a
respectable wife (implying that Lane would not be). They meet Dan at a roadhouse
when Dan is playing cards with the members of his political machine. Fielding's
father used to be a judge who almost put Dan in jail. What matters though is
that Fielding has a respectable name.
The local newspaper attacks Fielding for being a stooge of the corrupt politicians.
Fielding is still secretely dating Lane but also proposes to the vain and
wealthy Annabelle, who is all excited at the idea of becoming the wife of
a senator. Fielding tells Lane. The restaurant owner gets a call from the
sheriff and fires Lane.
The newspaper man is the only one who sympathyzes with her. He explains that
she will not find a job in town. The sheriff clearly wants her to leave town
for good. She walks straight to his mansion and confronts him and even slaps
him in the face. Minutes later while she is walking home in the dark
she is picked up by a police officer and arrested for prostitution.
Fielding inquires about her at the restaurant and Millie has no kind words
In jail Lane meets a girl who tells her about the roadhouse.
Released, Lane begs the owner of the roadhouse to give her a job as a waitress.
After the successful election of Fielding,
one night she ends up serving drinks to the very party of the sheriff.
She witnesses an argument between him and Dan about yet another case of
corruption. Dan, drunk, sleeps at the roadhouse and the following morning
she makes sure to impress him. He asks her to be her chaffeur for the day.
As they chat, she realizes that Dan is not a bad man, just a pragmatic one,
and that he got drunk because he isn't proud of how he bought the elections.
He falls in love with her. Days later the sheriff is having dinner with
Fielding and his wife at a fancy restaurant. The sheriff schemes to have
Fielding elected governor while Fielding is annoyed by his wife. Dan walks
in with Lane, who is now his wife, dressed in a fur and covered with jewelry.
Fielding still has feelings for her watches the couple nervously.
His vain wife first gossips against her, thinking she's just a lover,
and then, upon learning that she's now the respectable wife of an influential
man, plans to meet her.
Lane can finally live on Flamingo Road. And the sheriff is only a visitor,
no longer a persecutor, when he comes to discuss politics with Dan.
Dan and Titus are now enemies, because Dan sides with the current governor
Titus wants to destroy Dan and blackmails a supervisor of Dan's company
by arresting his son on a false charge. Titus want the supervisor to put
a few convicts to work at Dan's company with no wage: Dan is on the prison
board, and it will look like he's abusing his power for his personal business.
Fielding is disgusted and takes on drinking heavily. Disappointed on him,
Titus decides to candidate himself for governor. He walks into a meeting at
Dan's house of
the political bosses and hands out dossiers incriminating each and every one
of them in all sorts of scandals. They all follow him out of the door, leaving
Lane overheard and tells Dan that the sheriff has always wanted to destroy her
because of her love for Fielding. Dan feels betrayed, thinking that Lane only
wanted to marry him in order to carry out her personal revenge. He leaves her,
and leaves town. While she's alone at home, a drunk Fielding rings the bell.
Desperate that he lost her, he commits suicide. The sheriff loses no time
making it look like Lane was cheating on her husband.
Not only is Dan indicted on the trumped-up charges but a mob of puritans
organizes a demonstration against her. The mob being supported by the sheriff,
she cannot hope any help from the police. He is trying again to kick her
out of town. Again, she walks to his mansion and confronts him, except that
this time she is wearing a fur. And this time she pulls out a gun and threatens
to kill him if he doesn't clear her husband of all charges. He grabs the gun
from her and is ready to kill her. They fight, the gun goes off, he dies.
Lane is thrown in jail, but Dan uses his influence to prove her innocence.
The propaganda war movie Passage to Marseille (1944) boasted a complex
narrative structure and a cast reminiscent of Casablanca, but also
an embarrassing and ridiculous patriotism that justified cold-blooded murder.
During World War II, an aviator drops a message to his wife and child every
time he flies over their house on his way to a bombing mission.
A British reporter is sent to a secret camp to cover the air force of
the French resistance that is based there. The French captain tells him the
story of how one of the pilots, Jean Matrac (Humphrey Bogart), the one of the
previous scene, became a hero.
The captain was on a ship heading back to France to help in the war against
Germany, a perilous voyage, they rescued five men in a canoe, one of whom was
Matrac. They first pretended to be miners, but the ship officers quickly
forced them to confess that they had just escaped from "Devil's Island"
(Cayenne), a French prison camp. One of them tell the captain his
story (a flashback within the flashback). He deserted ahd then was sent to
Cayenne, where he met the others. They began to plot a daring escape. One night
he told an old man (a flashback within the flashback within the flashback)
why they relied on Matrac. Matrac had been a French journalist just before
the war, and already disgusted by the nazis and their friends the fascists.
He married his coworker and girlfriend Paula but they did not have time
to celebrate: Matrac was framed by the fascists for a murder he did not
commit. The couple tried in vain to escape but was captured and sent to the
Cayenne. This flashback is over, and the one set in Cayenne continues,
first describing the terrible conditions of the prison camp and then showing
how they escaped in the canoe. This flashback also ends and we are back to the
story of the ship. The commander of the ship received a telegram about
France's surrender to Germany. The officers split in two camps. The
captain is among those who want to hijack the ship so it doesn't fall into
German hands. But an arrogant officer wants to obey the orders of the puppet
fascist government and, realizing what the others have in mind, seizes power.
Matrac leads the revolt and reconquers the ship. They are attacked by a German
plane and narrowly avoid being sunk. Again, it is Matrac who downs the plane.
When he realizes that three Germans are still alive, he machine guns them with
no mercy (hardly a way to show that the antifascist Frenchmen were any better
than the fascist Frenchmen). This flashback is also over. Back to the secret
British camp, the captain has finished his story for the British journalist.
Right then (what a coincidence) arrives news that Matrac's plane is in trouble.
This time wife and child waited in vain for him to drop a note: he is dead.
The captain and his friends give him the burial of a hero.
il film di pirati Captain Blood (1935),
Flynn è un onesto e orgoglioso medico accusato ingiustamente di cospirazione
eversiva e condannato alla deportazione e alla schiavitù.
Le autorità sono sadiche, disumane, crudeli.
Flynn viene comprato da una giovane capricciosa e viziata dell'aristocrazia
Benché debba a lei la riconquistata libertà, Flynn non mostra gratitudine ma anzi astio.
Alla prima occasione Flynn guida la rivolta degli schiavi: si impossessano (durante un attacco spagnolo)
di un galeone degli spagnoli e di un forziere del ricco e arrogante governatore,
zio della giovane.
Abbordano navi su navi finché abbordano quella su cui viaggia la ragazza. Davanti al suo sprezzo,
Flynn decide di attaccare la guarnigione stessa. La battaglia cruenta si conclude con il trionfo. Flynn si
redime e viene perdonato dal Re, che lo nomina nuovo governatore.
e il mediocre The Sea Hawk (1940),
DUring the 16th century Spain is secretely building an "armada" to invade and
destroy England, and conquer the entire world, while sending an ambassador to
the court of England to prove their peaceful intentions.
The Spanish ambassador en route to
England is captured by the ship of a pirate, Geoffery. He romances the
ambassador's niece Maria, who eventually falls in love.
Geoffery delivers them to England, where they meet the queen. The queen
officially disapproves of the pirates, but in private authorizes them to
attack a caravan of Spanish ships carrying gold from America.
The Spanish ambassador learns of the plot and manages to lay a trap and
capture Geoffery. He is taken to Spain, tried and condemned to slavery.
But he manages to escape and return to England with documents that prove
Spain's true intentions. There he kills a traitor, delivers the documents to
the queen and marries Maria.
il film storico (The Charge of The Light
Brigade, 1936, l'eroica fine dei seicento lancieri inglesi durante la Guerra di Crimea),
The first half of the film is a (tedious and overlong) romantic comedy. In the 19th century,
geoffrey (Errol Flynn) is a British cavalry officer escorting the British
envoy to visit the local ruler Surat Kahn. He is bringing bad news: the British
have decided to stop annual payments to him. They go hunting, British and Indians
together, and Geoffrey saves the life of the khan when a leopard is about to
kill him. The khan promises eternal gratitude.
Back at headquarters Geoffrey's brother Perry, also a cavalry officer,
tells the beautiful Elsa that Geoffrey is coming back: it turns out that
Geoffrey is engaged to Elsa, but Perry and Elsa fell in love while
he was away on the mission. Elsa's father is furious: he forbids Perry
to ever see his daughter again, and he orders Elsa to hide this infatuation
from Geoffrey. Perry tells Geoffrey the truth, but Geoffrey has no reason to
believe that Elsa reciprocates. Geoffrey has to leave on another long mission,
leading horses through Central Asia to the Black Sea together with
his best friend James (David Niven).
They are attacked by tribes (in a scene reminiscent of western movies).
and they are promoted when they return. In the meantime, Perry is transferred
Elsa reaches Perry to tell him that she still loves him. Then she travels to
the same fort where her father and Geoffrey are stationed, hoping to straighten
out things. Despite reliable information that the khan is about to attack the
fort, the soldiers are ordered to go out on a manouver.
Just when Elsa is about to tell Geoffrey the truth, the khan attacks the fort,
laying siege to the undefended fort for one night.
In the morning the khan offers a safe conduct to the survivors if they leave
the fort, claiming that he is still grateful of when Geoffrey saved his life.
The British start evacuating the fort. But the khan's men shoot them,
massacring all soldiers and civilians except Geoffrey and Elsa (who are let
explain in order to pay off the khan's debt of gratitude).
The survivors are executed, including Elsa's father.
Suddenly the film becomes a war movie and changes setting. The British are
engaged in Crimea against the Russians, and Geoffrey is dispatched there.
For additional motivation Geoffrey's regiment is told that the evil khan
is fighting on the side of the Russians. Perry is also sent to the front,
and Elsa betrays her feelings: Geoffrey understands that she indeed lives Perry,
and accepts it. Arriving at the front, Geoffrey is told to withdraw his
"light brigade", but this time he disobeys his superior. He forges new orders
commanding the attack and then offers his regiment. Before the attack, he
dispatches his brother Perry to headquarters in order to keep him out of
trouble. His 600 men attack the Russian artillery at Balaklava.
Despite being massacred by the cannons, the lancers override the enemy.
Geoffrey kills the khan before dying. His regiment is exterminated but the
British win the battle.
il film pugilistico (Kid
Galahad, 1937), sullo sfondo di incontri truccati da gangster),
Stolen Holiday (1937)
Nicole, a fashion model, is invited by Russian gentleman Stefan to a
high-society party. He turns out to be a con artist. However, the two work
together and get rich. Nicole starts her own fashion shop. She falls in love
with a British diplomat, but decides to marry Stefan in order to save him
from prison. When Stefan's scam surfaces, the victims break into Nicole's
shop, ruining her business. Nicole reaches Stefan who is hiding, hunted by
the police. Stefan is killed during the siege. Nicole can marry her beau.
il film western con Virginia City (1940),
modellato sulla falsariga dei film di spionaggio anche se ambientato
come i film western;
During the civil war, three northern prisoners try to escape
from a southern prison by digging a tunnel. Unfortunately for them, the
southern captain of the prison has known about their plan for months.
Now that they are close to finishing it, he shows up and stops them.
With this cruelty he wants to punish the leader of the three, a captain,
who has already attempted two times to escape. He then meets with his
beloved Julia, a staunch patriot, who tells him that some friends of the confederate cause
in the mining city of Virginia City are willing to donate a huge amount of
gold to the South, but someone has to go and get it and escort it all the
way to the confederate headquarters. It is the only hope for the confederates,
that are being overrun by the North.
She wants to convince him to lead the expedition, and she does.
In the meantime, the northern captain and his two friends finally succeed in
escaping. They immediately report to the Union's headquarters and ask to be
assigned the mission to stop the southern cargo of gold from Virginia City.
The three men take a stagecoach to Virginia City, which happens to be the
same one on which Julia is traveling. An elegant stranger boards it and he
turns out to be a famous outlaw. When he tries to rob them, the captain
outsmarts him. Later the bandit escapes, but the stagecoach reaches its
destination. The woman is falling in love with the charming and heroic captain,
who happens to be her fiance's sworn enemy. Virginia City is a lawless city,
where the folks are celebrating the latest news of Union victories.
But Nevada is sort of a neutral state, where southerners can congregate
without being shot.
The southern captain is already there, incognito, loading gold bullions with
his southern cospirators. The northern captain doesn't know who is in charge
of the southerners' operation, but
begins the investigations to find out. On a visit to the saloon, he is surprised
to find out that Julia is a singer and dancer, not a noble woman.
He is even more surprised to see the southern captain, his former captor,
walk into the saloon dressed in civilian clothes. The three have a drink
together. The northern captain understands that his nemesis must be involved
in the gold shipment, and the southern captain is tipped by Julia about
the stagecoach trip and understands that his nemesis might be sent by the
Union to stop the shipment.
The notherner almost succeeds, but the southerner and his men defend the
carriages as it is moved somewhere else.
The northerners find a list with the names of
all the friends of the South. One of them is a doctor, whom the southern
captain stops to warn. At that moment, the bandit shows up and forces the
doctor to take care of his wounds. The southern captain and the bandit are
in the same boat: they are both wanted by the soldiers. So the captain offers
money to the bandit for some help: attack the nearby garrison to provoke
a distraction, so they can escape with the gold.
The northern captain tells Julia of his love for her and kisses her. She
walks upstairs and finds the southern captain in his room. And this lover
asks her to help him kill the other lover, because the northern captain is
the one man who could organize a posse and chase them. She begs him to save
the man's life and then obeys: she calls the northerner, tells his she loves
him, and gives him an appointment.
And he pays for his love: the southerners arrest him and take him with
them as a prisoner. The plan works: the bandits create the diversion, and
the southerners sneak out of town unopposed. Julia also rides with the caravan,
remorseful and shameful that she betrayed a man who loved her.
The northern captain takes the first chance to escape and join the chase.
But the bandit is also after the caravan, having guessed that there must
be something valuable in those wagons. So the two armies end up fighting
together against the bandits. In fact, the northerners join the southerners
behind the wagons while the bandits circle around them like Indians.
The southern captain saves the life of his northern nemesis but then
gets shot. As he is dying, the two sworn enemies make peace. And, to avoid
that the bandits get it, they
decide to hide the gold and blow up a hill so it will be covered with
boulders. It will be useful when the war is over and the country needs
to be rebuilt. The northern captain carries out the plan. When the bandits
attack, the surrounded men (northerners and southerners) expect to be killed,
but, instead, the Union's cavalry arrives (just like in western movies)
and saves them. The northern captain refuses to reveal what happened to
the gold and is therefore court martialed. Julia goes to beg president Lincoln
for clemency (3000 kms away?) and, in a pathetically implausible happy ending,
he tells her that the war is over and therefore the traitor is safe.
il western Dodge City (1939), leggero e simpatico, senza pretese,
costruito attorno ai soliti stereotipi del genere,
The train is taking over the prairies and making stagecoaches obsolete.
Wayne and his partner are buffalo hunters who worked for the railway.
They are rebels with a soul:
Wayne has a rival arrested because he was killing buffalos on Indian land.
The train reaches the western terminal, where the railway intends to build
a model town named after the man who made it possible, colonel Dodge.
Alas, instead of a model town, Dodge City becomes infamous for anarchy,
gambling, lynching and shootouts.
In the meantime, Wayne and his partner went south and are now leading
a caravan back to Dodge City. During the trip Wayne has to stop the
drunk brother of a sweet girl who pulls out his gun. The cattle runs him
over and kills him. When they reach Dodge City, they hear about the latest
murder by the gang that runs the town. Wayne is the only one who dares to
stand up to their boss, Jeff.
Wayne amd his partner avoid the rowdy crowds of the saloon and
hang out only with reputable people, but Wayne has a problem.
Although the girl, Abbey, knows that it was her brother's fault, she can't stand the sight of Wayne.
The good people ask Wayne to stay and help clean up the town, but she
opposes the idea.
Wayne is ready to leave town when a terrible accident, dure to one of the many
shootouts, kills a child in front of his eyes. He decides to accept the job of
sheriff. Within a few days, he arrests all the thugs, forbids weapons in the
center, and restores order. So much so that settlers start arriving to the
town for the first time in ages. His work gains him the respect of the citizens
and the love of Abbey. Only Jeff is not happy, but doesn't attack
Wayne because Wayne is not attacking him.
Then one day the local newspaper finds out that a woman, whose husband was
killed by Jeff's men, has to sell her house because Jeff never paid the money
he owed to her husband. Wayne, the owner of the newspaper Joe and the girl (who
now works at the newspaper for Joe) decide to bring Jeff to justice.
Soon Joe is found dead. Wayne finds out that one of Jeff's men killed him.
The man is arrested, and the citizens of the town ask to hang him right away.
Jeff's attorney begs Wayne to save the murderer for the trail by having him
transported to another town. Wayne accepts. At the same time he wants Abbey
to take the train in order to avoid ending up like Joe. It turns out it's
a set up: Jeff's men are on the train. They free their comrade and set the
train on fire. Wayne saves the girl and then he and his partner kill Jeff
and his men who are riding away on horses. The train has won again against
the old civilization.
Now that order has been restored, Wayne is ready to marry Abbey. Colonel
Dodge visits the town again: he wants to build a railway to California,
and needs Wayne to help clean up Virginia City. Wayne is reluctant, but
Abbey has no doubt where his heart is and accepts to move.
il film in costume, in particolare The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938),
The evil Prince John has usurped the throne of his absent brother Richard
by the Austrians). A Norman, he terrorizes his Saxon subjects. One of them,
Robin of Locksley, stands up to his arrogance and calls him a traitor in front
of his staff and of the beautiful but haughty Maid Marian.
John's soldiers try to capture him but he bravely escapes.
He takes shelter in the Sherwood forest and organizes a resistance movement that
enlists many angry peasants.
His men call themselves the "Merry Men" and call him "Robin Hood".
They rob from the rich and give to the poor. One day they ambush a party
of aristocrats that includes Marian. Initially disgusted by the barbaric
manners of the rebels, she is won over by Robin's gentleman's
manners and his noble ideals. But Robin is arrested during a tournament of
archers that he wins but that was a trap conceived by Prince John in person.
Marian travels in person to the hide-out of the Merry Men to offer her help
and finds a way to sneak them in so they can free Robin before he is carried
to the gallows.
King Richard finally returns to England but has to travel incognito, disguised
as a priest. Someone recognizes him and informs the king, who dispatches a
knight to kill the king before he can raise an army and stage a comeback.
Marian hears the plot and would like to alert Robin, but is caught in the act
and condemned to death. Marian's faithful nurse asks for the help of
Robin's faithful assistant Muck. Muck
kills the hitman while the king reaches Robin's hide-out, where he is
initially ambushed like every other rich man. Muck brings the news that King
Richard is in England and Robin is ready to mobilize his rebels to find him.
Then Richard reveals his true identity to them and they all get on their knees.
Muck also brings the news of Marian's arrest.
Robin does not hesitate to storm the castle the very day that John is planning
to be crowned king.
The Merry Men defeat the king's men and Robin personally duels against the
most evil one on his way to rescuing Marian.
Richard is restored to the throne. Robin is restored to his noble status and
Curtiz's film was probably the best of the Robin Hood films. It had been
Percy Stow's Robin Hood and his Merry Men (1908),
Charles Raymond's Robin Hood Outlawed (1912),
Etienne Arnaud's Robin Hood (1912),
Martin Thornton's In the Days of Robin Hood (1913),
Theodore Marston's Robin Hood (1913),
Allan Dwan's Robin Hood (1922),
Clarence Bricker's Robin Hood Jr (1923),
Bansho Kanamori's Robin Hood No Yume (1924),
Widgey Newman's The Merry Men of Sherwood (1932).
(Yankee Doodle Dandy, biografia di un attore di Broadway), il film nero (The Breaking Point),
per non parlare della commedia brillante
Jimmy The Gent (1934),
a brief screwball comedy
Jimmy (James Cagney) is an attorney who specializes in cases of rich people
who die without leaving any heir. He pretty much creates the heirs so that
he can collect a hefty fee. One day an old lady is found dead of starvation.
The nurses of the hospital realize that she was hiding all sorts of valuables
in her clothes: government bonds, safety box keys, jewels.
One of the male nurses calls an attorney, a competitor of Jimmy, and tips him
about the death and the existence of the safety boxes.
The attorney's assistant is Joan (Bette Davis), who used to work for Jimmy but
quit because she was disgusted by his methods and joined her more respectable
She guesses that Jimmy has a spy in the respectable attorney's office and
catches him in the act. Then walks straight to Jimmy's. By the time she gets
there, Jimmy is already looking for a phony heir for this case. She accuses
him of being a crook but only manages to irritate him.
Jimmy found out that the legitimate heir to the old lady's fortune is her
nephew Monty, who disappeared.
Joan's attorney tracks down Monty's daughter, who seems to be the heir.
But Jimmy's boys find out that Monty is not dead: he is a gambler
living under a different name because he is accused of murder.
The star witness against Monty is a girl.
Jimmy does not hesitate. He organizes a wedding between Monty and the prostitute
girlfriend of Jimmy's right-hand man but using a fictitious name for the girl.
Then he organizes a second wedding between Monty
and the witness herself, promising her half of the inheritance.
Were Monty to be convicted of the murder and sentenced to death, the inheritance
would go to his honest and kind daughter, represented by Joan's boss Charles.
But the charges against Monty are dismissed because the star witness cannot
testify against her husband. Now Monty can claim the inheritance that he is
entitled to and the daughter is left with nothing.
The witness now claims half of the inheritance, but Jimmy discloses to her
that Monty was already married.
The prostitute now claims the inheritance, but Monty reminds her that she
married Monty using a false name, thus she is not Monty's wife.
Jimmy fooled both girls.
Joan, learning of Jimmy's dirty tricks, is even more disgusted.
She was hoping that he would reform himself because he was copying her boss'
aristocratic manners. Her heart is broken. Charles is there to console her
and ask her in wife. Jimmy finds them in each other's arms. He has actually
decided to donate his cut of the inheritance to the daughter.
Joan suspects it's another trick. She is right, but this time it's a trick
to expose Joan's boss Charles for the crook he is. Jimmy and his right-hand man
see Charles cash the money and then buy a boat ticket for just one.
Jimmy fakes a message to Joan so she boards the ship and realizes who she
is about to marry. Charles runs away. Jimmy accepts to mail the money to
the legitimate heir (the daughter) and Joan accepts to become his wife.
del melodramma domestico
sentimentale, come Four Daughters (1938)
The four sisters Ann, Kay, Thea and Emma are musical prodigies, raised and
trained by their stern widowed father (and their aunt).
Emma (the harpist), the oldest, is romanced by a shy neighbor, Ernest, who always brings
But this time he's bringing flowers for Thea (the pianist), the second oldest:
they are from her suitor, a middle-aged wealthy man, Ben.
The other three sisters watch her from the window as she takes off in his expensive car.
When she gets home, she's excited and throws all the girls into the same
excitement: he proposed to her.
The youngest, blonde Ann (the violinist), is not even contemplating getting
married. She has trouble accepting the idea that some day the four will be
separated by marriages.
Before she knows it, a young charming stranger shows up at the gate and
she's suddenly in love. He's Felix, a promising composer who is joining their
his father's musical foundation. All four girls are fascinated by his manners,
Felix calls his friend Mickey (John Garfield), a pianist who can help him
compose his music. The unshaved Mickey's cynical, enigmatic attitude strikes
the innocent and optimistic Ann. They are opposites, and they find each other
amusing. Felix proposes to Ann, who is initially reluctant to accept because
she cannot conceive yet of a life outside her father's house.
When they announce the wedding, Ann doesn't see that Emma is crying.
It's Mickey that opens her eyes. When Ann realizes that her engagement has
broken the heart of her favorite sister, Ann elopes with Mickey right on
the day of the wedding.
Ann lives a mediocre life with Mickey until they return home for Christmas.
They find Emma engaged with Ernest, and Felix ready to leave.
They don't find Kay (the singer), who is bound to be a star and is singing
on the radio that very night.
Everybody is reconciled, and Mickey in person gives Felix a ride to the
train station. Felix still loves Ann, and, before the train starts moving,
hands Mickey an envelop of money to make Ann happy.
On the way back Mickey is torn by remorse.
The road is icy. He doesn't slow down. They crash.
At home Ann is feeling an idiot for having given up Felix for Mickey,
when eventually Emma settled for another man. The news comes of the accident.
They all rush to the hospital. Mickey dies and Ann cries sincere tears.
The daughters are reunited at home. Felix shows up and can finally marry Ann.
Four Wives (1939) is a sequel that deals with the sisters as three of them are married and one has become a widow.
e dell'avventuroso eroico, e di un film di Perry Mason,
The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) .
Nel ruolo di protagonista alternò James Cagney, Bette Davis, John
Garfield, Humphrey Bogart, gli attori del periodo dalle personalità più contorte. Il
romanticismo di Curtiz è sovente appannato da un'amarezza di fondo che può sfociare
the melodrama Bright Leaf (1950), adapted from the 1949 novel by Foster Fitzsimmons, about the fight between two tobacco barons.
The Breaking Point (1950) is based on Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not".
It is rather badly scripted, directed and acted.
Harry is a captain who takes two passengers to Mexico. The man disappears
without paying him, and leaving his mistress, Leona, stranded and broke.
Harry doesn't have the money to leave a Mexican port and
accepts the offer of a middleman to smuggle Chinese immigrants into the USA
on behalf of a Chinese gangster.
His faithful assistant Wesley and Leona refuse to leave him alone
(he senses danger and she doesn't have anywhere to go). The Chinese gangster
tries to deceive Harry, and in the fight that ensues gets killed by his own gun.
Harry reaches back home, but the Coast Guard has been alerted and his boat
gets impounded. Harry is a good husband and father of two children, and
everybody knows him in town.
The middleman offers Harry another opportunity to make money, but it is even
more dangerous. Harry is determined to avoid the farming life that his wife
dreams for him, and accepts.
I suoi primi film americani possono essere classificati nella categoria del cinema della depressione,
spesso a sfondo sociale, culminati in Black Fury (1935), a social drama
(with Frank Capra-esque happy ending) adapted from Henry Irving's play "Bohunk".
Joe is a jovial Polish miner with a strong accent. He lives with the humble
family of his fellow miner Mike, and is in love with Anna.
There is tension among the miners because of the plans of the unions, but
Joe is more interested in the miners' ball. At the ball Anna tells a young
police man that he has to break the news to Joe: they are in love and Anna
wants to break the engagement and leave the minig town with the policeman for
the big city. The following morning the parents find out that Anna is gone.
Joe is counting the money that he has been saving for Anna when her parents
bring him the news. (Joe can't even read Anna's last letter because he's
illiterate). Joe can't understand because he has always been good to her.
He goes to the bar and gets drunk.
The miners of the union are holding a turbulent meeting. Some of them want
to start a stronger movement that does not compromise with the mine owners.
Joe walks in drunk and start yelling at the union representative. The miners
are galvanized. The agitator who was stirring up the unrest likes what he hears and
calls his friends: they are racketeers who would make money in the event of
a strike. The following day the unions forbid Joe from entering the mine.
Joe, furious, leads the insurrection of all the miners who have been left out
of job by the official union. They attack the miners inside the mine.
Sensing that Joe's actions are beginning to hurt the mine, the racketeers
contact the mine offering as many workers as the mine needs.
Unaware of being used by the racketeers for their scheme, Joe is elected
president of the new union. Faced with the strike led by Joe, the mine has
no choice but to hire the men of the racketeers. Joe has to move out because
Mike doesn't want a troublemaker in his house. One day the miners see the
notice that the mine will reopen: they can accept the conditions of the mind
(which are worse than what the official union was going to get) or they will
be replaced. The miners are angry at Joe, who tries in vain to get advice from
the agitator (he has disappeared without paying rent). All the miners who
sided with Joe are evicted. Joe is abadoned by
everybody. One night Mike, who still has his job, sees a cop molesting a girl
and tries to stop him. The cop gets wounded and the other cops start beating
Mike. As soon as Joe hears of it, he runs to help his old friend. The chief
cop, who is dressed and behaves like a nazi soldier, accidentally kills Mike
(but does not feel any remorse). Joe is
hospitalized. In the meantime, Anna returns home (obviously her adventure with
the policeman has failed) and goes to visit Joe, who is not happy to see her.
Joe decides that he has to remedy the problem that he has created.
His solution is simple: he loads explosives on a wagon and sets for the mine.
Anna first tries to stop him and then helps him. It is Anna who tells the
management what Joe wants: re-hire all the strikers. Joe blows up the entrances
and threatens to blow up the entire mine. The nazi chief cop tries to get him
but gets stuck inside the mine with him, and Joe eventually kidnaps him
and holds him hostage. The miners side with Joe and parade in town.
The government investigates and finds out that the whole incident was
precipitated by the racketeers. The management gives in. Joe does not believe
it when he hears it, and asks for the miners to send down Anna to tell him.
He finally surrenders but is welcome as a hero by both the town and the media,
while the chief cop is arrested for Mike's murder.
e Angels With Dirty Faces (1938).
Black Fury (1935), adapted from Henry Irving's novel, is a
sociopolitical drama set in a Pennsylvania working-class town.
Joe (Paul Muni) is a good, humorous young man and a hardworking coal miner.
Some of the miners, fed up with the brutal conditions of the mines and the
unfair compensation, are unhappy with the union.
Joe is in love with the beautiful Anna, but she has a secret affair with a
policeman. The policeman has been promoted to a position in the city, and she
begs him to take her with him, so that she can escape the miserable life of
the coal town.
The policeman is clearly trying to get rid of her, but she extorts from him
the promise that he will rescue her.
While Joe is dreaming of their marriage, and saving money to buy a farm,
she is dreaming of city life. The following day she runs away.
Joe is devastated.
Joe gets drunk and walks into a union meeting at which half of the workers,
incited by a sleazy miner, decide to split from the others, and Joe joins the
rebels. It turns out that the sleazy miner is a spy for a shady organization,
paid to divide the workers' camp.
The spy has set his eyes on Joe, who is popular
with the miners, as the ideal leader of the rebels. Sure enough, Joe is elected
leader of the rebels. The two groups of miners fight for control of the mine,
and Joe's rebels decide to paralyze the mine's operations with a strike.
That is precisely what the spy has paid to deliver. His masters tip off the
mine's management of the forthcoming trouble and offer their services to the
management: they specialize in handling these situations, in providing scab
workers and security guards.
The organization that is paid to keep order is the one that incites the
disorder, and Joe is their involuntary accomplice.
As the scabs walk into the mine and the striking miners realize that they may
lose their jobs, the spy disappears and all the blame is laid on Joe.
To make matters worse, the strikers are attacked by the guards.
Winter comes. Miners who can't pay rent are evicted from their homes.
When Joe's best friend Mike is beaten by the guards for defending a woman,
Joe tries to defend him, but Mike is killed, and Joe ends up in a hospital.
Anna comes back just when Joe has decided to solve the problem his way:
he enters the mine and stops its operations. Eventually, the management
realizes that the security agency is responsible for all the trouble,
and Joe is the hero that makes peace between workers and masters.
Four's A Crowd (1938) is a mediocre fast-paced screwball comedy centered around four characters, two men and two women.
Jean is a lively reporter, a single woman who is not afraid of confronting men.
She fights with her publisher, Pat, an incompetent spoiled rich young man,
and sets in motion a series of events to destroy his private life.
She engages the services of a notorious womanizer,
Bob, who seduces the publisher's fiance, Laurie, despite the opposition of
her grandfather, a notorious capitalist whom Bob has tried in vain to win
over as a customer of his public-relations firm.
Jean manages to have the publisher
hire Bob, only so that Bob can destroy the reputation of Laurie's grandfather,
a fact that causes Laurie to dump the publisher, Pat, and accept Bob's love.
Bob, instead, wins her grandfather's trust by beating him at his favorite hobby,
miniature trains, and pretending he opposed the newspaper's attacks against him
(that he in fact engineered, and for which he was fired by the publisher).
Jean flirts with both men, as long as it helps keep the paper afloat.
Bob flirts with Laurie but has no intention of marrying her.
When the publisher clears up the misunderstanding with the capitalist, revealing
that the smear campaign was Bob's idea, the capitalist sends the dogs after him.
But then he realizes that Bob outsmarted him and decides to hire him.
Bob still has to flirt with both women at the same time.
Jean sets out to take her revenge and destroy his reputation, but finds out
that the cynical liar is actually doing something nice: helping a hospital
with the capitalist's money. Bob begs her not to print the story.
Jean follows Bob's advice and provokes the sincere and naive
Pat into proposing to her: she'll give him the story that can destroy Bob
after they get married.
Bob, in the meantime, decides to retaliate by eloping with Laurie and
The two couples rush towards the same justice of peace. When they get there,
everybody argues with everybody else and eventually the partners switch and
Pat weds Laurie while Bob weds Jean.
I film più tardi degradano
verso il film nero, s'incupiscono, idealizzano una situazione o un personaggio, come Casablanca (1942);
e affrontano tematiche subdole e complesse come Mildred Pierce (1945).
Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) inquadra i giovani abbandonati a sé
stessi dei quartieri
sottoproletari della metropoli, dipinge la strada e il riformatorio come i vivai rispettivamente del teppismo
e del crimine organizzato; i monelli diseredati adorano e imitano i criminali da prima pagina cresciuti nel
loro stesso quartiere, li considerano degli eroi senza paura, dei veri uomini di cui essere orgogliosi.
Rocky (Cagney) finì in carcere e lasciò il bottino a Jim (Bogart),
il suo avvocato. Uscito dal carcere anni
dopo, pretende metà dell'impero che Bogart ha costruito con i suoi soldi.
Cagney è l'idolo dei ragazzini vanamente predicati dal prete del
quartiere, l'amico d'infanzia Jerry. Cagney ha un forte ascendente su di loro:
basta che si presenti a una partita di basket perche' i ragazzini chiedano
antusiasti al prete di organizzarne un'altra.
I sicari di Bogart tentano di farlo fuori mentre lui sta corteggiando una
bella vedova, altra amica d'infanzia, ma lui scampa
e va a rapinare Bogart, comprese le prove del suo racket, e poi va dal socio
a fingere di aver rapito Bogart e si fa pagare un riscatto.
Un socio di Bogart pensa di incastrarlo mandandogli a casa la polizia, ma
Cagney affida il malloppo a un ragazzino, che condivide il segreto con
il resto della gang.
Uno dei ragazzini, Ben, e` tentato di prendersi tutto, ma Cagney ritorna in
tempo per dargli una lezione. Ai ragazzini da' soltanto una piccola frazione
del malloppo, ma quanto basta per corromperli: non si presentano alla
partita di basket, e passano la giornata a bere, fumare e giocare a
biliardo. Il prete capisce da dove viene il denaro, ma e` una partita persa
in partenza. Anche Jerry riceve comunque un contributo dal successo di Rocky:
un generoso assegno per la chiesa,
segno che lui ha un'anima buona, ma la rifiuta e preferisce far guerra alla
Cagney si diverte a imperversare ricattando due boss con le prove che ha preso
Il prete è preoccupato per il cattivo esempio dato ai ragazzi.
Cagney diventa il boss della città, mentre il prete conduce la crociata
contro la malavita, ovvero contro di lui.
La vedova tenta di convincere il prete a non rovinare Rocky, perche' sono
cresciuti insieme e sanno che lui non e` malvagio. Ma il prete sa cio` che
Rocky significa: e` un idolo per i ragazzi, e i ragazzi seguiranno il suo
esempio se lui ha successo.
Bogart e il socio stanno complottando per eliminare il prete e liberarsi di
Cagney, ma Cagney li sente e non resiste alla tentazione di freddarli.
Così compromette tutto: deve fuggire dalla finestra, e poi dalle
scale di servizio, inseguito dalla polizia sui tetti e nei vicoli.
Assediato dalla polizia, rimane senza proiettili, ma la polizia non lo sa.
Il prete ferma la sparatoria e chiede alla polizia di lasciarlo parlare
con Rocky. Rocky finge di arrendersi ma invece prende il prete come ostaggio
(con la pistola scarica). Rocky arrende solo all'ultimo, quando i
poliziotti gli balzano fisicamente addosso. La notizia dell'arresto scuote
il quartiere, e i ragazzi leggono orgogliosi le sue gesta sul giornale.
Rocky è deciso a rimanere un eroe per i suoi ragazzi, ad
affrontare con disprezzo anche la condanna alla sedia elettrica.
Jerry tenta di convincerlo a morire da vigliacco, per smitizzare la sua figura e
impedire così che altri adolescenti, imitando le sue gesta, finiscano
sulla sedia. E` Jerry stesso che accompagna il testardo indomitabile alla sedia
elettrica. Rocky non da` segno di paura, ma
all'ultimo momento accoglie la richiesta del prete e si mette a gridare
come un vigliacco.
Diventa cosi` lui il vero eroe, non la societa` che lo uccide.:
i ragazzi leggono allibili la cronaca della sua miserabile morte,
e il prete ha buon gioco a riconrdurli sulla retta via.
La morale e` un po' patetica e ambigua, ma il ritratto di gangster incarognito,
e ciò nonostante più innocente e più generoso di chi vuole condannarlo,
Casablanca (1942) rimarra` un classico del cinema noir.
Casablanca è la città che ospita i profughi europei diretti negli Stati Uniti, uomini
che vivono nell'ansia di ottenere un visto; fra questi l'americano Bogart, padrone di un locale notturno e
reduce da una misteriosa delusione sentimentale; la donna che lo aveva amato a Parigi (Ingrid Bergman)
lo aveva lasciato per ricongiungersi al marito, un capo della Resistenza perseguitato dai nazisti; quando i
due giungono a Casablanca, Bogart smette l'aria cinica, fornisce loro i visti necessari e protegge la loro
fuga uccidendo un nazista.
Curtiz sfrutta la leggenda esotico-cosmopolita per l'idillio patetico, un romanzo d'amore impossibile,
e infarcisce di reminiscenze viennesi (il locale che funge da Grand Hotel dei profughi e delle
autorità) e berlinesi (l'atmosfera decadente, il buio e la nebbia che avvolge cose e persone, le
figure ambigue che bazzicano il locale) esaltando al tempo stesso la guerra (di liberazione) in corso. Nel
pieno rispetto della tradizione, è questo uno dei feuilleton canonici di Hollywood, superba fusione
di film d'atmosfera, thriller e melodramma esotico.
Captains Of The Clouds (1942) is an aviation movie.
Mildred Pierce (1945) è invece un thriller e dramma psicologico,
reso ancor piu` tenebroso da inquadrature alla Orson Welles.
Mildred è una donna che lavora sodo per mantenere la figlia egoista e ingrata e sposa un secondo marito spregevole che viene ucciso, e della cui morte
di accusa il primo marito.
Monte is shot at his beach house at night and, before dying, utters
one word: "Mildred". The murderer drives away unseen.
In the meantime, a woman in tears, Mildred, is walking down a pier as if
she meant to commit suicide, but is dissauded by a policeman.
Businessman Wally, who is in love with Mildred, sees her and invites her into
his own restaurant.
She takes him to the beach house for a drink, knowing that he would not say no,
and then leaves and locks him alone inside.
Wally, searching for an exit, stumbles into the dead body.
The police see him jumping out of a window and arrest him.
Mildred returns to her mansion where she lives with her two daughters, teenager
Veda and little Kay. The police are waiting for her. They inform her of
the murder of her husband and take her to the station for an interrogation.
But Mildred's first husband Bert assumes responsibility for the killing.
Mildred had Veda and Kay from Bert. They were a humble middle-class family.
Mildred spoils the elder daughter, Veda, who is not even grateful of her
mother's preference. Veda was the topic of countless arguments between Mildred
and Bert, until finally they separate.
Mildred was broke and had to look for jobs, and found one as a waitress,
a job so humiliating that she kept it from vain Veda, for whom she
had taken it in the first place.
Then Mildred had the idea to open a restaurant and found an ally and partner
in businessman Wally, who was crazy about her.
They bought a place from playboy Monte, who also fell in love with the woman.
Mildred asked Bert for a divorce, and then made love to Monte.
Kay died suddenly, but Mildred quickly recovered from the shock thanks to the
success of her restaurant.
One day Bert caught Mildred and Monte kissing and left in a fit of rage.
Back to the present, Mildred confesses to the detective that she killed her
Flashback. Mildred quickly became the owner of a chain of restaurants, and
Monte had become dependent on her money. Monte also spoiled Veda.
Mildred was heartbroken that she had worked so hard for Veda and now Veda was
hardly talking to her, taking all the wealth for granted.
Mildred decided to severe ties with Monte, to save Veda from his bad
But the ever more amoral Veda had secretely married a young boy only to frame
him with the help of
Monte and be paid a substantial amount by the family for a fake pregnancy.
Veda, ever more ungrateful and selfish, told her mother up in her face that
she wanted money only for one reason: to get aways from her.
This time Mildred kicks her out. Then takes off for Mexico and becomes
Mildred returned to town and had dinner with Bert at Wally's restaurant,
where Veda was now the singer. Mildred begged Veda to give up that humiliating
job and return home, but Veda was only interested in the luxurious life that
Monte had taught her.
Just for the sake of Veda, Mildred offered Monte a third of her business if
he married her. This way she could stay near Veda and provide her with the
mansion and lifestyle she craved for.
The marriage of convenience worked for a while, but one day Mildred learned
from Wally that she was broke and that Monte was the cause. Monte had been
plotting behind her back all the time, taking advantage of her devotion to
Veda. Mildred took a gun and drove to the beach house.
Back to the present, Mildred confesses how she killed her husband Monte,
but the detective does not believe her. The police know that somebody else
was in the beach house with her, the real killer, and that she is only trying
to protect that person. The police bring in Veda, who, thinking her mother
betrayed her, falls in the trap. Veda killed Monte.
Flashback. Mildred arrived at the beach house and caught Monte and Veda
kissing tenderly. Confronted, Veda told her mother that she had been Monte's
lover all along and that Monte will divorce and marry her.
Mildred left but heard Monte and Veda arguing because Monte had no intention
of marrying her, and then six shots. Mildred returned in the house where
Veda begged her for help. One more time the love for Veda prevailed over
reason and Mildred came up with the plan to blame Wally.
Back to the present, Veda is taken away while Mildred and Bert walk out of
the police station together.
In ciascuno di questi tre film, il protagonista è solo e si sacrifica
per qualcun altro. Nonostante i suoi film si svolgano nel rispetto delle
convenzioni di uno o più generi, da essi emana il senso della fine,
il senso dell'esilio, la confusione di miseria e di lusso, la confusione di
passato e di futuro, tipici della crisi.
My Dream Is Yours (1949) has a talent scout create a new star.
The Lady Takes A Sailor (1949) is a thriller and a romantic
comedy, but the direction is amateurish and the plot is implausible.
A pretty underwater researcher, Jennifer, with a boring fiance', makes a
stunning discovery during an expensive expedition, but risks
drowning and is saved a mysterious submarine. A handsome sailor
takes her roll of film before releasing her. Thus she has no proof of
her discovery, and people think she engineered a fraud.
Nobody believes her story.
One night at a club she spots an exotic singer who was
on the submarine, but she denies everything. Sure enough, Jennifer sees them
come out of the club together: the singer and the sailor. But he too denies
everything, even when she begs him to return the roll of film that would save
She hires a private detective to track down the sailor, enter his house and
try to retrieve the film from his safe. The sailor comes back and catches them
in the act. Instead of turning her to the police, he explains his behavior:
Jennifer stumbled onto a submarine on a secret mission. He would like to help
her, but can't compromise the mission.
He romances her and she pretends to fall in love with him, but, when he realizes
she's only trying to steal the film, he kicks her out. The detective, who is
still hiding in the room, steals the film. Before he can deliver it to her,
the sailor shows up at her apartment demanding that she returns the film,
claiming that it is government property and she is getting into serious trouble.
She escapes, trying to meet with the detective who is trying to deliver the
film, and he starts following her all the way to the beach house of her best
friend. He ends up sleeping in the rain and catching
a cold. The following morning the man who
funds Jennifer's research institute comes to visit her to clear the matter,
but she causes one disaster after the other and he ends up believing that
she is crazy. The detective also arrives and is desperately looking for a way
to open the box that contains the film. The sailor (or government agent) is
still spying them to retrieve his film but, more importantly, to romance
the girl. He loves her so much that he would let her have the film,
but she loves him so much that she lets him return it to the government;
except that the detective can't resist, steals the film and gives it to
the press. This saves the woman's reputation, but destroys the man's career.
Thinking she cheated and betrayed him, the man is disappointed. But the
detective clears up matters.
Young Man With a Horn (1950), adapted from Dorothy Baker's novel,
is the fictional biography of a musical talent (modeled after Bix Beiderbecke)
as he falls in love with the trumpet and becomes a professional musician
under the auspices of a legendary jazzman, as he sacrifices everything to his
Rick gets his first job with a dance orchestra, where he meets
attractive singer Jo, but
refuses to play the notes as they are written, preferring the way of
improvising of jazz.
The story is told by pianist Smoke, who became his partner and friend,
who followed him when he had to quit after yet another argument with the
They wander from club to club. Eventually, Rick meets Jo again, and she helps
him get a stable job. Then he meets again his mentor, the aging jazzman.
The two are his guardian angels. But Rick falls under the spell of a friend
of Jo, Amy, a strange woman whom he marries. Soon, he neglects his job and
his friends. Soon, he is alone and unhappy.
One day his mentor tries to help him but
Rick sends him away with rude words. Minutes later, the old man is run over
by a car and Rick doesn't have a chance to talk to him before he dies.
Back home, Rick realizes that he means nothing to his wife and dumps her.
He is rescued by Smoke and Jo, but can't play anymore. Jobless, alcoholic,
he becomes a bum. Smoke and Jo see him one more time before he dies of pneumonia.
La commedia We're No Angels (1955) e` degna di Frank Capra.
Tre evasi dal cuore d'oro si stanziano presso una famiglia ignara e la aiutano con i loro metodi
a pagare i debiti: Bogart, Ustinov e un terzo galeotto sono fuggiti dal penitenziario durante il periodo
natalizio. Incapaci di commettere dei veri crimini, chiedono asilo in casa di un negoziante promettendo in
cambio di riparare il tetto. Dapprima i tre meditano truci rapine ai danni del pover'uomo, ma presto si
lasciano impietosire dalle sue disastrate finanze e dalla bella e brava figlia, il cui cuore è stato
infranto dall'ex-fidanzato. Bogart mette a frutto come commesso la sua abilità di truffatore. Il
terzo, dongiovanni recidivo, si presta a sollevare il morale della ragazza. Ustinov usa la sua abilità
di scassinatore per aprire la cassaforte e controllare i conti. Bogart si mette a fare l'amministratore. Il
cugino ricco e superbo che mette in croce il bravo negoziante trova così pane per i suoi denti.
Quando il ricco malvagio muore, i tre preparano un testamento che lascia tutto alla ragazza, ma l'egoista e
ipocrita nipote brucia il testamento per rimanere l'erede unico. Fanno morire anche lui e poi trovano un
bravo fidanzato alla ragazza. Risolti i problemi della famiglia, decidono di tornare in prigione, che
è l'unica casa che hanno. Commedia natalizia in cui i tre evasi rappresentano altrettanti angeli
The Man In The Net (1959) is a tense drama and a thriller.
John is a painter who retired in a quiet corner of the countryside abandoning
his career in the big city. His favorite subject are the children of the
neighborhood. His wife Linda is a neurotic woman who is a recovering alcoholic
(and perhaps the real reason that John decided to move to the countryside).
She hates it there and would like to return to the city, especially since his
old company is offering him twice the old salary.
The sheriff, Steve, hangs out in their home, clearly attracted to Linda and
They are invited to the birthday party of their neighbor Vicky. Linda refuses
to go claiming a migraine. But then she shows up drunk and accuses him of having
hit her. The men at the party are already hostile to John and believe Linda's
story. The only one who sympathyzes with him is Vicky herself, unhappy in her
marriage with Brad.
Back home she is totally out of control. She has made an appointment for John
with his old company, hoping that he will change his mind. She pretends she
is having an affair with Steve. She tries everything to make him change his
mind about the job in the city. He coldly tells her that she needs to see a
The following day John has no choice but to go to the appointment in the city.
On the train he meets Vicky's husband Brad, who is unusually friendly.
When John gets back home, he finds all his paintings vandalized and a note from
his wife telling him that she left him. He can't find her. The sheriff, in the
meantime, found Linda's suitcase in the city dump. The sheriff calls the state
police. John tells the truth about Linda being an alcoholic and a neurotic,
but the sheriff denies it. They don't believe anything of what he says.
After they leave, Vicky comes to warn him that the whole town suspects that he
killed Linda. The folks of the town have always hated him and are only looking
for an excuse to lynch him. Only the children love him.
In the mail he finds a receipt for some cement that he never ordered. John
checks with the store: the sales person remembers getting the phone call from
him (or, at least, from a man). Outside John notices a trail of cement
and finds his wife buried under a layer of concrete. Someone has framed him.
Vicky phones to warn him that the men of the town have organized a posse and
are coming to get him. He narrowly escapes the posse, led by the sheriff
himself. One of the children, a girl, guides him through the woods to a cave
that only the children know. She tells him that she saw Linda with a man and
Linda asked her to promise not to tell anybody. John asks the children to help
him elude the police and search his own house for clues. He finds a tape
and some jewelry that Linda hid from him. Her lover must have been rich.
John uses the children to lay a trap for the killer: they let everybody
know that there is a tape. John reckons that the killer will want to destroy.
Vicky is told by the children and joins John, waiting for the killer to show
up: they see Brad drive by and taking the tape. Vicky is devastated.
It isn't the real tape. John is fixing
the machine to listen to it. In the meantime one of the children has told
the adults the truth. The sheriff leads the men towards the place where John is.
They arrive just when John is ready to play the tape. Everybody hears the tape:
it's Linda talking to Brad about their affair. John guesses that Linda meant
to blackmail Brad with that tape. But Brad was in the city with John and
therefore cannot have killed Linda. Brad's father finally confesses: he killed
Linda. Brad's father was the man most determined to find and lynch John...
Comancheros (1961) e` invece un western.
Wayne è un capitano dei ranger che arresta un distinto giocatore
d'azzardo ricercato per omicidio in un altro stato.
Durante il viaggio l'omicida riesce a fuggire.
Tornato al forte vi viene incaricato di indagare sui comancheros, i rinnegati che vendono armi e
alcool ai pellerossa. Si reca sul posto e, spacciandosi per un desperado, si unisce a uno di loro (Lee
Marvin), ma questi è tanto scontroso e violento che Wayne lo deve uccidere. In compenso ritrova
il fuggitivo e con lui si mette in marcia verso il territorio indiano. Mentre sostano nella fattoria di un
amico, gli indiani attaccano e il prigioniero ha l'idea che li mette in fuga. I due si rimettono in viaggio e si
fermano alla fattoria di una bella vedova di un amico di Wayne, che nutre per lui un forte affetto (ma
Wayne antepone il suo dovere verso il Texas alla sua vita privata), e danno un passaggio a lei e alla sua
bambina da un giudice. Il giudice ha escogitato un modo per salvare l'omicida, facendolo figurare come
ranger. Poi continuano da soli la missione di fingersi comancheros con un carro pieno di fucili e
finalmente incontrano i Comanche, che li portano al loro campo dei comancheros.
Ma i rinnegati si prendono i fucili e sottopongono i due a un processo (la loro
comunità è un piccolo villaggio con le sue regole): il capo decide di accettarli dopo che
sua figlia riconosce il giocatore d'azzardo. Il capo è ridotto su una sedia a rotelle ma ha
trasformato il contrabbando in un'organizzazione molto efficiente. La ragazza ha però
riconosciuto anche Wayne, ma non lo denuncia; Wayne intuisce che forse ha un debole per il suo
Infatti la ragazza decide di andarsene con il suo amato e supplica il padre di fare come lui.
farlo tradisce l'identità di Wayne e Wayne è così obbligato ad agire.
viene ucciso da una donna a cui lui aveva fatto uccidere il marito, i tre vengono inseguiti dagli indiani,
arriva un plotone di ranger a salvarli e a massacrare i banditi e gli indiani.
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