The Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Conspiratorial Filmmaking I maintain that some very important conventions were worked out in 30s mysteries. The Charlie Chan series was instrumental in some of these, and this is the last of them. It incidentally has Charlie’s son as the detective, the first Asian playing the character. The sensitivity to Chinese culture is no better than… Continue reading The Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

Joan of Arc (1948)

Burned Alive I wonder if there is anyone who can view this film with any sort of fondness today. Everything about it is false, with no element one can point to for relief. Yes it has Ingrid, but as wooden as a pike. Yes it has a powerhouse story, but rendered here lifeless. Even the… Continue reading Joan of Arc (1948)

Jud Suss (1940)

Slippery Everyone should view a few of the Nazi propaganda films before they die. Nazis were not the ones who committed the atrocities, rather it was the mass of Germans. Whether they were manipulated or what we see as manipulative devices (like this film) is a matter for learned speculation. But there is no denying… Continue reading Jud Suss (1940)

Dressed to Kill (1946)

A Sad Goodbye These Basil Rathbone Holmes movies are a wonder. They deviate so far from the stories in intent, they offend. Yet at the same time, they were important to the redefinition of the British wartime character. They were not important at all in the scheme of evolution that defined the detective genre. They… Continue reading Dressed to Kill (1946)

Double Indemnity (1944)

The Match is Out Filmviewing is like most things in life: there are a few predefined roles among which it is convenient to pick. Once you define who you are in the world of cinema, it determines a lot of what you think about what you have just experienced. One of these roles is the… Continue reading Double Indemnity (1944)

I Remember Mama (1948)

Dismembered There are a few things to like about this: the framing and staging is extraordinary, as if George Stevens wanted to reinvent the eye after his war experiences. Some choreography is worth seeing over and over. I have recalled that bit about the window falling down for decades. The acting is generally very good… Continue reading I Remember Mama (1948)