The Raven

Poe on torture. A despised lover pendulums the girl’s father and puts the happy couple in a room with shrinking walls.

The servant is a thief and murderer he’s disfigured for further depredations, on the promise of a new face.

A surgeon and collector of Poe. He’s saved the girl’s life, she dances “The Raven” in his honor.


Crashing Hollywood

The phony bank alarm racket, stuff of a lucrative screenplay (cf. John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking).

It brings the Hawk out of the woodwork, a public enemy who’s a dead ringer for one Darcy, a leading actor and star of the picture.

Jack Carson directs (cf. David Butler’s It’s a Great Feeling).

Leonard Maltin, “amusing movie-studio background”. Sandra Brennan (All Movie Guide), “a healthy satirical stab”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “a reasonably vivid background,” citing Variety, “completely satisfactory programme picture.”


Twelve Crowded Hours

Numbers runners try to skip town with the dough and are rubbed out, a newspaper editor dies with them innocently.

A kid in the “down with everything crowd” is suspected, a reporter sent him up.

The kid’s sister wants nothing to do with the reporter, who’s crazy about her.

$80,000 is a sizeable piece of change, money to reckon with.

Night and morning in New York.


Harvard Here I Come

The perfect double bill with Medak’s Nabokov on Kafka or Russell’s Altered States or Metter’s Back to School.

Harvard quacks get the full measure, also gentleman scholars, truants to good sense among the student body and the rest as well.

After all, T.S. Eliot says we have to keep universities as museums of fine architecture, or places of entertainment, they’re good for nothing else.


The Boogie Man Will Get You

The mad scientist turning door-to-door salesmen into super-supermen able to knock out Berlin and Tokyo single-handedly, they drop dead in his gizmo.

The civic functionary who holds every elective office and gives a mortgage rate of 23% compounded semiannually, what do the other people do? “They vote once a year.”

These two become partners. The mad scientist’s two devoted and elderly retainers kill lodgers “only for their money”, to raise pigs and chickens for his upkeep.

The Early American tavern is rundown and up for sale. Benedict Arnold visited, once.


The Return of the Vampire

Spiked in 1918, back in ‘41.

The matter and the method are all-engrossing, it takes place in another realm, even. The corpse in evening dress whose face has no reflection dominates the mind of Andreas, who becomes a lycanthrope and really the wild man of the woods.

The symbolic language is such that the war is only one of the many layers interweaving throughout to mutual advantage.

A great work of art that made Crowther giggle.

But the wild man of England has spiritual resources that make him triumphant, he is dead and saved, the monster quelled, the girl safe, Scotland Yard quizzical.

The daring stroke after Casablanca is to have the vampire impersonate a refugee scientist by the name of Dr. Hugo Bruckner, escaped from a concentration camp like Victor Laszlo but murdered by Andreas per instructions.


I’m from Arkansas

Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan Creek is flatly disturbed by Esmeralda the pig’s fecundity and issues a rejoinder via the Morgan Creek Clarion, “IT’S A LIE!” (“it is true that this locality”, Pitchfork, “raises a fine type of porker”).

City gals vs. hill folks, the very theme of Richardson’s Tom Jones, make no mistake about it, which is to say hoofers at the end of ye well-known string taken in by a hillbilly band direct from Rockefeller Center.

In the midst of the war, this allegory on a showbiz trifle that shortly becomes, for example, Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, and so forth. “The joint’s crawling with talent.Meat packers want the beneficial mud for a corner in pigs, similarly. “Don’t like telegrams, too much trouble to read ‘em.Consequently the best understanding of Sturges before The Glass Menagerie.

Great doubletalker delivers multiplying pig explication. “See, Ma, that’s what a college education’ll do for a feller.Hog calls. Marriage matters. “There ain’t no pig worth it.”

“Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy. Nothing more beneficial than Ma Alden’s mudhole. The packers must be sent packing.

Pitchfork Springs, where they get down to brass tacks.


Crime, Inc.

“The invisible government in our city.National Brokers, Inc. (it has a subsidiary, the International Export Company), “racketeers and greedy businessmen”. The next step is to control elections, so they’re “impregnable”.

The thrust of the action is a comment on Hawks’ Scarface, the crime reporter gets the girl, a mobster’s sister. A brilliant film that lays the foundation for Lumet, among others.

Crowther, New York Times, dismissed it.


Under the Tonto Rim

A girl in the middle of nowhere (cp. Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly) picked up by the Arizona stagecoach. Masked men attack the relay station and kidnap her. The Tonto Rim gang holes up at Sentinel Rocks between raids on neighboring towns. The girl’s brother runs it (cf. Hawks’ Scarface). Territorial Rangers send in the owner of the stage line and his partner, undercover.

A beaut of a Western.


Inner Sanctum

A circular nightmare on a very tight schedule, told aboard a train (like Buñuel’s Cet Obscur Objet du Désir), with the focal point a depot. The extreme abstraction makes matters an evidentiary conjecture in some degree, on the surface. The girl is a two-timing gold-digger, the fiancé has broken it off, she makes to kill him with a nail file but dies impaled.

He holes up in a small town, tries to kill the boy who witnessed it, meets a girl, the police close in.

This poem of romantic love gone astray turns on itself at the close as a warning unheeded. Landers’ structure is perceptible as akin to The Return of the Vampire, down to the two clowns who appear in another guise. The style is commanding and eloquent, with deliberate and useful echoes of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a doubt and Welles’ The Stranger.


Last of the Buccaneers

Jean Lafitte after the Treaty of Ghent fighting the Spanish, question of loyalties in changing political circumstances.

One of his men reads Francis Scott Key,touché” is the remark among the crew.


Man in the Dark

Experimental brain surgery at a private clinic. “To make that guy honest you’d have to cut off his head!Mallarmé brings in the Penn Bonnie and Clyde angle with “son pur regard. Consequences for The Terminal Man (dir. Mike Hodges), also A Fine Madness (dir. Irvin Kershner). An exceptionally fine, well-conceived 3-D sense. The amnesia side effect gives I Love You Again (dir. W.S. Van Dyke) and Mister Buddwing (dir. Delbert Mann), “then we’ll have ta beat it outta ya!”

“Steve Rawley, a hood with a record as long as your arm...The remarkable evocation of a rollercoaster ride is achieved as a process shot. A dream of the midway and the U.S. Post Office (and the “U.S. Army—Responsibility and Character”), with a very rich punchline and two Christmases.

The brilliant trailer (“hey—you’re not allowed in there!”) gives the title as The Man in the Dark (an adaptation of Lachman’s The Man Who Lived Twice)...

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, who saw it “viewed through polaroid glasses... at the Globe,” was not impressed, “withal, it is not exciting. The story is a drably written thing, unimaginative, unintelligent and undistinguished by visual stunts. And the direction is wholly pedestrian.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “muddled tale... the contrived plot plods along...Halliwell’s Film Guide, “silly”.


Captain John Smith and Pocahontas

A tale of Shem and Shaun as between valorous Smith and those at Jamestown after fool’s gold, their cruelty, rapacity and cunning are a fine writhing sight.

The Indian princess similarly contends with the bloody men of her tribe. Dumbrille as Powhatan is a great chief.

It’s a tale told by the captain to King James, “a legend”.