Body and Soul

The champeen, get this, don’t even know the fight was fixed, his turn comes around.

The reviews are an amazement, starting with Crowther’s complete endorsement, Variety’s quibbling over “loopholes” and Lilli Palmer (with a side bet on gambling it could tell), finally Time Out Film Guide laying it on the line, get this, “a socialist morality on Capital and the Little Man”, amazing.

The analysis of Mamoulian’s Golden Boy has been noted, it ends in Ritchie’s Diggstown by way of The Hustler.

Like many a British film, a training ground for directors (William Conrad, Joseph Pevney, Abraham Polonsky, James Wong Howe, Robert Parrish, Nathan Juran, Robert Aldrich, Francis D. Lyon, Don Weis).


All the King’s Men

A winnowing picture of the mistake a politician makes when he sees himself as the be-all and end-all of it, raising the people to a mirror of his vanity, and the state likewise.

Our Hitler, das Volk and secret murders.

The miraculous transposition into American dialect makes it quite as cozy as Visconti’s La Caduta degli dei in Italian, it’s all so plausible, so customary, so logical in a way, so matter-of-fact, even the look of adoration on a young woman’s face.

Just a hick, as he says himself, surrounded by thugs and goons and lackeys, and admirers.

Blackmail and intimidation are the tools of his trade, bribes and beatings, nothing he won’t do.

An end of him, and no mourning but for the man who killed him, one must live so as “to give that life meaning,” a commonplace sentiment after the war.



For the lowly, a greedy hope. For the lofty, a timid amusement. For the artists, the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.

“Reportedly,” Variety reports, “it was re-cut several times and is said to bear little resemblance to the original.”

The scene is Venice at its dreariest in rain and snow with closed palaces, and briefly Rome at its sunniest.

Crowther had no use for Mangano’s beautiful performance or any of the others (Gassman, Rennie, Winters, Clare).


Alexander the Great

The film is made of two superb effects, two spheres, neither of which was even noticed by the critics, who then had nothing to do but find it too lengthy (it was to have been considerably longer, the somewhat elliptical style betrays studio influence).

Rossen goes very far in establishing antiquity, this is from the actors and derived from the art of the time, all centered on Richard Burton’s evocation of the hero, a study that repaid him again in Cleopatra.

The Christological sense of Alexander’s mission is very real and vivid, it makes up half the film.

The psychology and battles are very fine, that’s what the critics got.


Island in the Sun

That nothing is more tiresome in its tiresomeness than a tropical island paradise, despite the title song.

Preminger went to town in his analysis from Rossen’s last shot as Hurry Sundown, the title of which is a little song in Kazan’s Wild River.

The satire can be plainly understood as a matter of class-consciousness on another island demi-paradise (Stevenson has Mary Poppins for this).


They Came to Cordura

The wretched Army led by a fool charges Villa’s forces, four soldiers individually save the day and are sent back to base at Cordura to await the Medal of Honor.

It’s a long trip, their mortality becomes evident.

The loss of equilibrium at Villa’s U.S. raid puts the awards officer leading them at some disadvantage.

He carries it through, bringing along a U.S. Senator’s daughter who lives in Mexico and entertains everybody, federales, villistas, etc.

Not even the reading of their citations, which turns the tide, could really move the critics.

Rossen’s film seems to have been tampered with by the studio, but to a lesser extent than Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage.


The Hustler

There is little enough to recommend him, and then he makes the shot.

The mountain he climbs is Minnesota Fats, not once but twice.

The “Roman businessman” bets against him, manages him, robs him of his happiness, and bars him from action.

Fats can come and go as he pleases. He has met his match.



In the padded cells of the very rich, a wounded GI has a disastrous affair with a schizophrenic just like the girl that married dear old Dad.

The cinematography is remarkably like Richardson’s Mademoiselle, which bears the highest praise from Richard Lester.

Variety was totally in the dark. Cahiers du Cinéma understood it to be among the ten best films that year.

Cp. Le Roi de cœur (dir. Philippe de Broca).