The House of Rothschild

“Attacks on my race are ignorant and futile. He may strike, and strike again. A Jew falls, a thousand are wounded, but the race lives on, for, unfortunately for His Excellency, we are evidently eternal,” thus to Hitler in the year of his ascendancy, from which Goebbels derived the title of Hippler’s reply.

Bankers to the Allied Powers against Napoleon, in strength through unity.

History of the firm, from Jew Street to the capitals of Europe.

A significant analysis of the situation between the wars, foretold in Napoleon’s exile, extending to the peace.

“Can you tell me which is the Rothschild house?”

“Yeah,” says a rioter hurling a stone that breaks a windowpane, “that’s it.”

The freedom of Prussian Jews is obtained before Nathan Rothschild of London answers the outrage, “pray excuse this, my Lords, some Gentile has evidently strayed into our quarter.”

Capra takes his cue for American Madness from him, so to speak, just before Waterloo.

Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson, from an unpublished play.

The ending is emulated in Clément’s Paris brûle-t-il?.

Nominated for Best Picture, but it was Capra’s year.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The common housefly, what note dispels him.

Holmes biding his time after missing a trick in Moriarty’s murder trial.

The professor leads him a dance with an English mining family beset by an armada of South American retribution. This is merely a ruse, though the killings are real enough.

The Star of Delhi is another real ruse, it’s the Crown Jewels Moriarty is after.

Holmes ridiculous and sublime, disguised as a music hall artiste for a spanking rendition of “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside”, pummeling Moriarty on the roof of the Tower of London.


A-Haunting We Will Go

A college comedy, only as a joke (the crooks say they’re fraternity boys on a hazing).

It’s all small potatoes, but it looms large for a couple of vagrants (Laurel and Hardy) tossed out of Atlanta and shipping a coffin to Dayton for no-goods (Richard Lester’s Finders Keepers begins here).

The least admired of their films (Skretvedt excoriates it, the New York Times had no use for it), because the language is so involved and the significance so obscure that Dante the Magician is required for its prestidigitation, including the rope trick and a den of lions.



Shock is sometimes described as a film noir, or even a Gothic, strictly speaking it’s a psychological drama concurrent with Hitchcock’s Spellbound thematically and Welles’ The Stranger technically (the lights-out to a fireplace conversation). With its very pure expression of a theme in continuous dramatic symbolism overriding the action presented on the screen, it points directly toward Resnais’ Smoking/No smoking and gives rise to entirely different and successful analyses as Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Polanski’s Repulsion.

A young wife comes to San Francisco to meet her husband, a soldier reported dead and just released from a prisoner-of-war camp. He doesn’t show up, she dreams of a giant doorknob she can’t handle, of a corridor he’s lost in. Awake, she observes a husband kill his wife with a silver candlestick in another room of the hotel, seen from her balcony. She lapses into a catatonic trance, her husband arrives and calls a doctor, who summons a specialist, the murderer. The soldier’s wife is transported to his sanatorium.

The exact nature of the murder is a crime passionel, the psychiatrist wants a divorce so he can marry his nurse, his wife won’t have him leaving her for a younger woman, she picks up a phone to destroy his career with scandalous publicity, he strikes.

The soldier husband gets a second opinion from the doctor’s teacher, and there are still further details.

The excellent dream sequence happens early on, but the soldier’s wife doesn’t fully wake up until the end of the film. Crowther got the thing entirely wrong in the New York Times, he censured the studio and the producer for maligning psychiatry just when it was doing so much for returning soldiers.


He Walked By Night

A true story, of course. The ganef is a cornered rat in the storm drains who has to be killed or he’ll kill you, before that he’s a guy who beats you up for your money, still earlier a holdup man in various guises, but first of all a cop-killing thief who peddles other men’s work as his own, whereas his one and only trade is crime.

The influence of James Whale’s The Invisible Man is discernible.