In movie jargon, the words “classic” and “masterpiece” are accolades that are tossed around quite a bit. Sometimes they are well deserved, sometimes not, and often the status is indeterminate. In the case of 12 Angry Men, there is no reasonable doubt at all about the verdict. This classic is a masterpiece and one of […]
Film Title12 Angry Men
In a stifling Jury Room 12 men deliberate the fate of a murder suspect
Lee J. Cobb
In a Lonely Place (1950) and Bigger Than Life (1956), two of Nicholas Ray’s finest films, are about two men made to feel “ten feet tall” in order to survive. For Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) in Place, it happens in a war; World War II, to be precise. For Ed Avery (James Mason) in Life, […]
When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost a hundred years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The […]
Film TitleThe Flight Of The Phoenix
A plane crash in the Sahara results in a clash of wills to survive.
James Stewart can be solidly forgiven for films like It’s A Wonderful Life because of efforts like Vertigo and this film, The Flight of the Phoenix. It is not a wonderful life, but it is a wonderful film, with top notch acting and dialogue that you would expect from a classic film. The Flight of […]
Film TitleThe Farmer's Wife
A middle-aged empty-nester has trouble finding another suitable mate
2 Hours 9 minutes Fair Value of The Farmer and His Wife: $0.00. In this early (1928) silent film, a young Hitchcock is both out of his element (mystery) and his medium (dialogue), and so this early drama is generic and basic, largely lacking in Hitchcock’s style. This is a snoozer. Summary of the Concept: […]
A traumatized former police detective falls hopelessly in love with a woman who doesn’t exist
Barbara Bel Geddes
“The language of the camera is the language of our dreams.”-James Baldwin. No director was more fluent in that language than Alfred Hitchcock. Vertigo is the most conspicuous example of his fluency. Vertigo is a Pygmalion and Galatea story. The question in this case, who is Pygmalion and who is Galatea? When, is a better […]
Film TitleJuno and the Paycock
A family earns a big inheritance and forgets their basic values
1 hour 34 minutes Fair Value of Juno and the Paycock: $-5.00. 1920s knockoff Bernard Shaw misery porn that lacks in much of the style or timing that Hitchcock would later display. This early Hitchcock film shows why he went to thrillers and suspense- it’s artless and heartless. Summary of the Concept: A poor […]
Film TitleSecret Agent
During World War One, a newly recruited British spy is dispatched to Switzerland to hunt unknown German agents.
1 hour 26 minutes Fair Value of Secret Agent: $2.00. If it’s streaming, it’s a good old timey punt, with amusing performances by Peter Lorre and John Gielgud Summary of the Concept: During World War I, a newly commissioned British spy is tasked with identifying and catching a German spy moving through Switzerland. What’s […]
Film TitleThe 39 Steps
Hook up with a spy girl, get wrongfully accused of murder.
1 hour 26 Minutes The Grandfather of all Spy Films. Without The 39 Steps, no Bond. No Bourne. No The Fugitive, the most obvious modern descendant of this film, which truly established Hitchcock on the map of international cinema. Fair value of The 39 Steps: $20.00. It’s must-see cinema, in the same way as Star […]
Film TitleDouble Indemnity
A confident insurance salesman falls for the femme fatale, and they plot to murder her husband.
Edward G. Robinson
In a just universe, we’d all toil tirelessly in Billy Wilder’s cinematic fantasy, never once questioning his authority or perspective. There have been more visionary artists to be sure – and certainly more ambitious – but few are as perfect a fit for any occasion. Because of his genius regarding the melding of humor, pathos, […]