Like his earlier masterpiece Rope (1948), Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder is based on a play (by the English playwright Frederick Knott), and it’s not difficult to see that it was originally intended as a theatre piece. Not only is the bulk of the film set within the confines of an apartment—as also in Rope—but the cast is small and the action is built around a single dramatic climax. However, Dial M differs from Rope in the position of this climax, and therein lies the former’s greatest weakness.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat may begin with a torpedic blast, but it rapidly enters a maelstrom of sanctimony, dime-store impromptu romances, and heavy-handed propagandizing. It’s hard to believe that this rudderless tale about the sinking of an Allied freighter by a German U-boat during World War II was helmed by the same “master of suspense” who produced the gripping small-town drama Shadow of a Doubt only a year earlier.
The subject of the sumptuously photographed and artfully directed French film Renoir is not immediately apparent from the title. One might expect a biopic about Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), a key figure in the French impressionist movement. But the film has almost as much to tell us about Pierre’s son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), a skilled artist in his own right who would go on to become one of the world’s most influential movie directors by creating such critically acclaimed classics as Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game. No matter. Renoir is less about artists than about the muses who inspire them.
I’m not an angel. That’s too bad. Because there’s something I really need to take up with God so that He can publish a biblical addendum, something that occurred to me while watching Seven. It’s simply not enough; an eighth deadly sin is needed: “smugness.” That’s the sin made by so many filmmakers. That’s the sin David Fincher committed in assuming that this slogging detective drama constitutes entertainment.
Foreign Correspondent is notable for being only the second film Alfred Hitchcock made in Hollywood; it’s also one of the Master’s tauter, more cerebral thrillers. Though a relatively unheralded work, its multilayered tale of international espionage makes it a worthy forerunner to the cineaste-revered classics of the 50s such as The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest.
The magic of The Wizard of Oz is indelibly etched in my memory as it must be for all movie lovers who wax nostalgic for childhood. How could one ever forget Dorothy’s quivering hand nudging open the portal to that new and strange colorful world? Or the high-pitched munchkins who fêted her and sent her on her yellow-brick journey? Or the motley band—scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion—of her lovable companions? Alas, fond remembrances of times past cannot expunge the present. I now live with the knowledge that I will never be able to erase the bitter memory of being subjected to Oz, the Great and Powerful.