Spellbound (1945)

Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Spellbound Movie Review

Spellbound is a 1945 noir mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. It is a pretty good, interesting Hitchcock experiment.

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Women make the best psychoanalysts until they fall in love.

After that they make the best patients

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Now I have read that Hitchcock himself dissed the movie decades later and truly the film isn’t a favorite nowadays. But I disagree with that notion. It is certainly far from his best works and it isn’t a great film, but it is still a pretty good film which is pretty on par with most of his other 40s efforts.

The movie is criticized for being dated, but to me the film is pleasantly old-fashioned in its approach and I loved personally the emphasis on traditional mystery and a strong reliance on psychology. Whether or not the film is scientifically accurate is a non-issue as movies, especially thrillers, aren’t supposed to be scientifically correct. I personally really liked the theme of psychoanalysis here and it was very well explored and even fascinating to hear about.

The film is a bit too cozy and less ambitious and dangerous than his usual fare, but that meant that it was original and different. The mystery is so well established and I loved the path to untangling it. It is a well written, mysterious and atmospheric film that works great as a noir mystery with some good thriller elements.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

There are three highlights here. One is the dream sequence done by Salvador Dali. That was of course authentic and unforgettable visually. Another is of course the childhood flashback which is beautiful and such a great, important moment. And the third is that ending with the gunshot being fired at the audience being very inventive.

Gregory Peck is very good in Spellbound, but Ingrid Bergman is the standout here. She gave such a strong, subtle performance and she should have been nominated for her work here. She plays such a strong female character who is a doctor and who eventually saves her man. That is why the film is not sexist as some remarked, but rather opposite than that and modern.

Spellbound has some evident problems. One is the pacing which is at times slow. The entire first half should have been trimmed down a bit and some scenes are too slow and even dull. I also didn’t quite follow the murder storyline quite as well as the childhood drama one. It was a bit too convoluted.

But other than that, it is a very good film. One of the character highlights is Alex Brulov played so well by Michael Chekhov. His somewhat sexist and full of himself character was a lot of fun and he made me laugh a couple of times.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

The film features very strong dialogue. Some of it wasn’t as great, but most of the conversations and discussions were very interesting and even fascinating in subject. The film has such an interesting psychological, dreamlike quality to it emphasized by gorgeous cinematography and many excellent shots and beautifully constructed sequences. Hitch’s direction is very strong here. The film isn’t as good as ‘Lifeboat’ or ‘Shadow of a Doubt‘, but it is better than overrated ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and it is a very underrated 40s effort from the director.

Spellbound is sometimes too convoluted and it drags in some scenes, but it is mostly a very intriguing, different kind of noir mystery with a strong emphasis on psychology. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman are an excellent pair here with her in particular delivering a very strong performance. The film is intriguingly dreamlike in quality fueled by gorgeous cinematography and a couple of unforgettable sequences such as the gunshot ending, the childhood flashback and a weird dream scene done by Salvador Dali. It is a pretty underrated Hitchcock film.

My Rating – 4

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Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 psychological thriller noir film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. It is such a flawed, yet respectable movie.

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He thought the world was a horrible place.

He couldn’t have been very happy, ever.

He didn’t trust people. Seemed to hate them.

He hated the whole world. You know,

he said people like us had no idea what the world was really like

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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It is about a teenage girl who learns that her uncle who has just come to visit their family is actually a murderer. This plot is quite standard and there is nothing truly original here. The same goes for some of its execution, mostly the first half. I just knew everything that would happen as the story is predictable and you know from the start that he is the criminal.
But still that aspect of the darkness lurking beneath the light is quite fascinating here. The movie is incredibly dark and that is why it is probably the only noir film from Hitchcock, a sort of noir as it has some of those elements for sure. This idyllic little town seems great at first, but then we witness how seedy some of its parts are and of course we realize that the man who seemed wonderful and kind at first is actually a cold, calculated killer.
I liked his character quite a bit and I honestly liked Charlie too. She was a bit too naive and good-natured, but that perfectly clashed with her uncle’s personality and all of the scenes between the two are terrific. I loved the final scene in the movie as it showcases how despite everything some people just cannot stop loving their relatives and I really liked the ultimately positive look on life that was present in that final line.

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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As for the other characters, they are solid, but overly abundant. I liked her bookworm sister, quite funny at times. The mother is also memorable and of course Charlie’s love interest is quite likable and the two are wonderful together. As for those two men constantly talking about possible murder methods, I do not know what to think of these two. Their conversations fit the story of the film and they are quite a fun, goofy duo, but they seemed too comedic and I do not know if this movie needed two full comic reliefs.
Shadow of a Doubt is really well acted with Joseph Cotten delivering such a strong performance. I am glad that they haven’t chosen William Powell. I love him to death, but he isn’t suited for this role and Cotten is. As for Teresa Wright, she was always such an underrated actress whom I loved here. She gave a strong performance and was immensely charming and beautiful.

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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Hitchcock directed this movie really well. It truly is one of his better films from this period, but to me not one of the best. I really do think that it should have been shorter in length and some scenes were overly extended. The film is really well edited despite the first half. It took too much take to get there. And of course that train scene was awfully convenient and rushed. But despite those flaws, it is still such a well shot, directed and made movie which also features excellent dialogue and some memorable scenes with the library sequence being beautifully shot and so atmospheric. The film is thrilling despite its predictable nature.

Shadow of a Doubt is definitely too predictable in plot, it takes its time to get ther owing to a slow start plus the train sequence is rushed and awfully convenient. However, the story is pretty well told, the characters are memorable and really well developed, I really liked its interesting themes, the cinematography is gorgeous and some scenes are very memorable and so well conceived. Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten are also phenomenal. It is in the a very good film, but I do not share Hitchcock’s sentiments as it isn’t my favorite movie of his, not by a long shot.

My Rating – 4

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The Big Heat (1953)

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The Big Heat Movie Review

The Big Heat is a 1953 noir film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford and Lee Marvin. It is a predictable, yet memorably dark movie.

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The main thing is to have the money.

I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor.

Believe me – rich is better.

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Obviously the big problem here is the script which is overly familiar and I’ve seen some of the scenes here multiple times before and after. The pot itself is fine, though definitely standard, but it is executed well and professionally written. However, the problem is the overall predictable nature to the movie. It is so predictable that almost its every plot point is expected. I saw the ending, I knew who was going to die and who is bad and the best example of this predictability lies in the scene where the protagonist’s wife dies. Yes, it is done and filmed well, but everybody would realize what is going to happen in barely a minute there.

I liked its characters. The Big Heat is famous for turning the femme fatale aspect on its head by making the man be fatal for all the women who meet him. That was definitely original and great. I really liked Bannion as he is a complex, memorable noir protagonist and him coping with his wife’s death was really well done. Debby is terrific and she stole the show here as the most interesting and even fascinating character. As for the villains, they are fine and dangerous, but I thought that the decision to reveal them so early was done for better and for worse.

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This isn’t an A-list cast of actors, but they still did such a good job. Gloria Grahame is very good, Lee Marvin is memorably villainous and Glenn Ford was mostly really good and competent in a somewhat difficult role. Of course Fritz Lang’s direction is terrific and it is so great seeing that the director of ‘Metropolis’ could tackle noir along with science fiction. He truly was a great director.

The Big Heat is fascinating for its mature tone and that is its greatest and most authentic accomplishment. It is certainly the most memorable aspect of the entire film. The scene where Vince tortures Debby and throws hot coffee on her face, thus permanently ruining the entire side of her face is certainly the most violent scene that I have ever witnessed in an older film. It is definitely the most memorable part of the film and although too violent, I actually liked it as it raised the stakes for sure.

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But having her get her revenge and doing the same to him later on was a great choice and a further proof of how strong and feminist the women in classic Hollywood movies were. These were great female characters who were strong and capable, but in a realistic manner. I loved Debby. But I also liked that it was an emotional film, subtly emotional in its protagonist’s problems. The ending is so sweet and I adored that speech about his wife that he gave to Debby, so beautiful. The film is also superbly edited as it is deft and doesn’t waste any scene, but also doesn’t rush the story. I just wished that it wasn’t that predictable as it would have been superb, but it is still very good this way and a proof of how talented Lang really was.

What hurt The Big Heat in the long run is the entire predictability of its plot with almost every plot point being expected, but this noir is still so well made, so well directed by Fritz Lang and so well acted that they managed to lift the material to much greater heights. I loved its emotional approach with a couple of beautiful and moving scenes, but the highlight are its memorable characters and most especially its incredibly dark approach with a couple of unforgettable brutal scenes that are not excessive, but help raise the stakes significantly.

My Rating – 4

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Out of the Past (1947)

Out of the Past Movie Review………………………………………………

Out of the Past Movie Review

Out of the Past is a 1947 noir film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. It is said to be one of the greatest noir films of all time and I have to agree with that assessment.

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Nothing in the world is any good unless you can share it.

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Out of the Past Movie Review………………………………………………

Now the plot here is superb. The only problem with the plot and the entire movie is that it is overly convoluted in a typical noir fashion. I understood most of it, but some of the scenes in the second act of the film were too entangled and not properly explained. It also has a lot of twists and turns and a lot of characters, but it manages to be satisfying in most of those areas.

I loved each and every character here. The film features terrific character development and superlative acting leading to fully realized characters with the protagonist in particular being amazing. Kathie I found to be one of the most effective femme fatale noir personalities and she never disappointed. Whit wasn’t as good, but was well incorporated into the storyline.

Kirk Douglas is solid in his role which is his earliest role I’ve seen. Jane Greer also played it really well and she manages to exude that mystery and danger around her wonderfully. But Robert Mitchum shines above both of them and gives one of the definitive performances in a noir film. He is so suave here, so handsome and cool, yet so tragic and sad which is evident in his eyes. He is such a memorable presence and his character is very complex owing to such a great, subtle performance that is one of his greatest.

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Out of the Past Movie Review………………………………………………

Whereas Out of the Past features a weaker second act, the first and third one are stellar. I loved how Kathie and Jeff met and those sequences were very romantic and so well shot, but the ending is even better. In fact, it features one of the most memorable ending scenes of the period. I loved how the story ended and although dark, it was essential for this kind of story and you have a great final moment where Jeff’s girlfriend asks about him and if he was going away with Kathie during his last moments. That was so heartbreaking to watch and the entire film is very poignant.

Out of the Past features great twists and excellent character motivations. It truly is a splendid script. But the dialogue is even better and as brisk and clever as you would expect from this type of film. The same goes for its technical aspects which are all terrific. The cinematography is so good and some of the shots are quite inspired, they really contribute to the overall atmosphere which is expectedly dark, moody and melancholic. The score is also great and some of the imagery is very memorable with those scenes in Mexico being the highlights.

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Out of the Past Movie Review………………………………………………

Everything is so well done here, including the film’s themes. It showcases how a woman can ruin a man and this is probably one of the most extreme examples of that, even for noir standards. But it also shows us loneliness in the main character who is one of the most moving and memorable protagonists of any 40s flick. The film grew on me as I at first didn’t love it that much, but after I have watched it entirely and after thinking about it a bit, I started to appreciate it and it truly is one of the best noir films out there.

Out of the Past is very difficult to understand and too convoluted in the second act, but the first act is so well done and the third act is tragic and simply unforgettable. It features one of the finest protagonists of its time period with Robert Mitchum being so memorable in this great role, but it also has superb cinematography, very good story and a very poignant tone to it leading to one of the finest noir films.

My Rating – 4.5

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Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Sweet Smell of Success Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Sweet Smell of Success Movie Review

Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 noir film directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. It is a solid, yet very disappointing film.

It is about a powerful newspaper columnist who uses his connections to ruin his sister’s relationship with a man he deems unworthy of her. Yes, on paper, the film seems great. And the premise definitely is powerful and important in a timeless manner. However, the execution is far from great leading to a film that has a lot of lost potential.

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I’d hate to take a bite outta you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic

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Sweet Smell of Success Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

The problem here is that I just never really connected with either of the characters and I never found either of them particularly interesting and they should have been as the script demanded it. The character development is strong, but not immensely strong. But the acting is definitely excellent. Burt Lancaster is so good as is Susan Harrison, but it is Tony Curtis who shines in one of his career best performances.

In terms of storytelling and memorable scenes, only the third act is excellent and a true highlight as it is so dramatic and so emotional. But everything that came before it was frankly a bit dull and never that memorable. The film is well directed, certainly very well acted and it features some pretty good cinematography, but I had trouble recognizing it as a noir film. Yes, it obviously has some of those elements as the film is dark and deals with a serious subject matter and unlikable characters, but rarely does it really look it that way and it is more of a crime thriller than a full noir flick of its day.

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Sweet Smell of Success Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

And certainly that was a problem to me as Sweet Smell of Success felt modern in every way which I don’t like as I prefer old-fashioned noir of that era. So in the end, even though it is important, dramatic and well made, I didn’t connect with it, I rarely felt anything and I just found it to be one of the most overrated films of its genre.

Sweet Smell of Success has a very important story, good character development, it is well made and so well acted plus the third act is very dramatic and intense, but everything that came before it wasn’t as great, the film isn’t that great of a noir film as it was too modern in my opinion, way too underutilized, a bit cold and ultimately overrated.

My Rating – 3.5

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Key Largo (1948)

Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Key Largo Movie Review

Key Largo is a 1948 noir crime film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall. It is such a disappointing and uninspired movie.

A bunch of gangsters are holding some people hostage in a hotel while the storm is brewing outside. Yes, that’s it. That’s the plot of this movie. And needless to say, it is uninspired, unoriginal and lacking in identity. Not only did I find it typical, but also frankly boring as it was filled with not that great dialogue and clichéd characters.

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When your head says one thing and your whole life says another,

your head always loses

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Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Yes, the characters here are so clichéd and so ordinary and none of them sticks out. Rocco is the most typical and annoying of the bunch and Frank is a solid, but forgettable protagonist. Gaye is the standout, but unfortunately Nora Temple got little to do here.

Yeah, Lauren Bacall has such a short role here that it really caught me by surprise as this is their famous movie, but in reality only Bogart is memorable in it. And Bogart is as great as ever as he is always a great actor and delivering a great performance even in his lesser movies. Edward G. Robinson is also expectedly good. However, Claire Trevor as Gaye Dawn absolutely steals the show here which is very interesting as she’s got so little actual scenes. But her character is heartbreaking as this woman who is poorly treated by her husband and that scene in which she sings that is so incredibly powerful and that basically earned her an Oscar, an Oscar that is rightfully deserved as this supporting performance is the most memorable aspect of the whole movie.

Key Largo is admittedly well acted, well directed and mostly well edited. All of its technical aspects are good and some of the imagery here is quite striking owing to a very interesting setting. The hotel and the storm provided some great scenes visually and I really enjoyed that sweet ending. But the dialogue is so annoying that it made me bored. The movie is so dull to watch as it never has anything truly interesting or unique in it.

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Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Key Largo also bothered me with its classification. Just because the movie is made in the forties doesn’t mean that it is a noir flick as it isn’t. Yes, it is partly noir, but it is above all a gangster flick and that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t like it as much because I dislike that genre. I admired its emotion and its technical aspects, but everything else is so subpar. And the movie unfortunately comes way behind the classic Bertie Higgins eponymous 1981 song that is inspired by this movie and which is one of my favorites. It was such a shame that the movie didn’t live up to it, at least for me it didn’t.

Key Largo is very well made, visually pleasing, sometimes emotional and it has such a great performance from Claire Trevor who deserved her Oscar here, but the movie is so dull, so uninspired and typical and filled with really forgettable characters that it disappointed me a lot.

My Rating – 3

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The Killing (1956)

The Killing Movie Review……………………………………..

The Killing Movie Review

The Killing is a 1956 noir film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Sterling Hayden. It is a solid, but ultimately a weaker film for Kubrick.

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You’d be killing a horse – that’s not first degree murder.

In fact, it’s not murder at all.

In fact, I don’t know what it is

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The Killing Movie Review

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The plot here is nothing spectacular and it is the film’s biggest obstacle that it never managed to overcome. I just didn’t find it either riveting or particularly authentic. It is a basic heist, crime movie and that is also very annoying to me as it is called a noir film when in reality it is much more of a crime film. That was frustrating. Another annoying thing is its structure. The first half is somewhat slower and even a bit confusing as it is filled with too many characters, but the second is the opposite as it’s too rushed and even abrupt. But yes, that ending is worth watching alone as it is so powerful and instantly memorable.

The character development in this movie is solid, but frankly far from great. Johnny Clay is pretty forgettable for a supposedly main character and only Sherry is memorable and interesting here. Yes, she is a typical deceitful noir dame, but that worked here and she had some of the best sequences.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The acting is pretty good. None of these actors are greats, but they still did a pretty good job, all of them. Sterling Hayden is the highlight, but Marie Windsor is also quite solid. As for Kubrick’s direction, it is good, but far from great. Yes, The Killing is inarguably one of his weaker movies, at least for me it is. Of his 50s efforts, ‘Paths of Glory‘ is an infinitely better movie and I think that he unfortunately didn’t add anything new to this genre like he did to other genres in his greatest pictures.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The Killing looks really good as it has fine cinematography and some excellent shots. But as I said, it is never as atmospheric as the best noirs are and that was extremely annoying to me. It succeeds as a solid crime film and a heist one, but never as a thriller or full noir. The highlights are the airport end scene which is just awesome and those many scenes with Sherry who is very entertaining to follow.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The Killing is well paced and I have to say that it is pretty engaging to watch, especially for a crime film. Its running time is suitably short and it never drags, but admittedly is rushed in its second half. It is also quite unpredictable and even though I wasn’t such a big fan of its structure and of all its plot developments, I really liked how it all ended and how dark and mature the film is. You can evidently sense the danger in air and that was excellent. So the tone is great, but what about its realism? Well, it isn’t particularly realistic in some of its mob sequences as they are too mild given the subject matter. But having in mind its era, you have to watch it in context and that is why it wasn’t a problem for me. The score is okay and the dialogue is pretty good with some great lines early on. Overall, it isn’t great, but it is perfectly solid as an early Kubrick flick.

The Killing is a pretty solid early Kubrick picture with excellent cinematography, very good performances, solid characters and such a superb, memorable airport end scene, but the entire movie is admittedly a disappointing effort from Kubrick with not that authentic plot and not enough noir thrills to take it to the next level. It is solid, but far from great.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Letter (1940)

The Letter Movie Review

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The Letter Movie Review

The Letter is a 1940 noir film directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. It is such a good and intriguing, but ultimately not as great movie.

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With all my heart, I still love the man I killed

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A woman has killed a man and she must prove that it was in self-defense. The plot itself is the major problem I’ve had with this noir flick. On the one hand, it has some pretty intriguing moments from time to time, but on the other, it is relatively predictable and the twist itself isn’t the most exciting or satisfying one. That is the problem here – The Letter is never as exciting as are the classic noir features. It is a respectable picture, but never great which is unfortunate.

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The Letter Movie Review

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Leslie Crosbie is an interesting, albeit problematic character. I found her dilemmas to be greatly and dramatically conveyed, but her personality is a baffling one as I never really got this woman. Is she a bad or just troubled person? The movie never answered me that and I really thought Leslie to be this confusing creation, almost a non-entity. Robert is such a likable man and he is so good and caring as her husband. Mrs. Hammond is so intriguing, but more on that later. And Howard is so good and probably the best character here.

The acting is probably the strongest asset The Letter possesses. Yes, this most certainly isn’t my favorite performance from Davis as she overacted a bit in some scenes, but she is still very good and at times even fantastic, especially in those more emotional, more demanding scenes. But I have to say that Hertbert Marshall and James Stephenson do not get nearly enough credit as they should for they are overshadowed by Davis. But to me, both gave really good, underrated performances. Also, Gale Sondergaard is delightfully creepy and quite unforgettable as Mrs. Hammond.

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The Letter Movie Review

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Speaking of Mrs. Hammond, she is such an interesting appearance here. Her character is so mysterious and remains like that throughout the movie, but she is also such a strong and very memorable presence. The entire Asian part of the story is a really intriguing one as rarely have I seen that angle in the movies of the time. Everything about it is delightfully creepy and mysterious, especially her character and those outside scenes with the moon are some of the highlights, so well executed with some fantastic cinematography and score. However, this aspect is still a flaw to me as it was too mysterious and sometimes not explained properly. I never really got why Mrs. Hammond was after Leslie and that opening, while undeniably powerful and unforgettable, is still incredibly confusing to me.

The Letter is such a powerful film in terms of its technicalities. The score in particular is not only incredibly strong and memorable, but also wonderfully atmospheric. It is one of the best scored noir films. The directing from William Wyler is expectedly great, the pacing is just fantastic and the movie is very entertaining and never rushed for its short running time. I also really respected its originality and its mysterious quality. The cinematography is gorgeous as those sequences outdoors are so phenomenally shot and just beautiful to behold. The attention to detail is also splendid as everything is paid attention to and each and every thing makes an effect on the story from the letter to the knife. And the movie is quite emotional at times too.

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The Letter Movie Review

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The Letter is the first movie to infamously go 0 for 7 at the Academy Awards. But it definitely deserved those nominations with the acting nods being satisfying and the nod for score being especially deserved. Best Picture, Director and Editing are also pretty much deserved. As for me, this isn’t one of the strongest noir flicks I’ve seen, but it is still a pretty good one. Yes, some of its story elements are problematic, but at least it is an authentic and very entertaining movie that overall did not disappoint me.

The Letter is such a good, if not great noir flick. The story is so authentic and intriguing, albeit too confusing and unexplained at times. The characters are phenomenal, albeit the protagonist is problematic. The cinematography is just gorgeous, the score is absolutely fantastic, the acting is really strong and its pacing is great as well. It is in the end a flawed, but respectable film that benefits from such a strong mysterious quality to it.

My Rating – 4

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Alphaville (1965)

Alphaville

Alphaville Movie Review

Alphaville is a 1965 science fiction noir film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina. It is an interesting, but still very flawed movie.

I had so many problems with this movie. This is one of the examples where everything seems great and I should be loving it, but I still end up annoyed by it and finding it overrated. The story itself is definitely good and has its moments, but is executed rather poorly. It is clever, but then again too Orwellian and nothing new. And at times I found it to be pretty pretentious.

The characters are also problematic. Lemmy Caution is a clichéd and rather boring protagonist and others are all serving the plot device instead of being well fleshed out, except Natacha von Braun who is the finest character here.

The acting is good. Anna Karina did a really nice job and delivered her more emotional scenes quite well. And Eddie Constantine is also very good. All of the actors admittedly did a good job. The directing is also pretty good, but I have to say that I am not a fan of Jean-Luc Godard as this as well as ‘Breathless‘ I both did not particularly like. His filmmaking style is annoying to me and very pretentious. And always slight in substance, but great in style.

Yes, Alphaville is a technically polished movie and is worth seeing mostly for its technical prowess and great visuals. The imagery is fine and the film is well shot. The score, while repetitive, is still very atmospheric and memorable. It enhances the dark mood of the film wonderfully. And emotional intensity is present mostly in the ending whereas in the previous scenes, the film is overly cold and emotionless. That is the point, I know, but they should have made me care for the characters which they did not.

The dialogue is mostly good, but should have been better. And I really disliked the use of that distorted voice, that was so annoying. The movie has a good atmosphere and is dark and mature, but is also very slow and boring and always so pretentious. The pacing is very slow and the tone is too dramatic with the science fiction elements being rather underused and the romance only being used near the end. And the plot, no matter how important, is still typical and I’ve seen it countless times before. In the end, Alphaville is a deeply flawed, incredibly disappointing movie and Godard is definitely not my cup of tea. It isn’t bad, but isn’t that good either and is certainly not great. This is the type of movie that I should definitely rewatch, but for now it gets just a passing grade.

Alphaville is interesting and at times intriguing and it certainly has a good atmosphere, but it is too slow, too annoying and pretentious with a good premise fairly underused. It is such a disappointing and flawed movie that is poorly realized and boring to watch. This is certainly a style over substance.

My Rating – 3

 

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Touch of Evil (1958)

Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil Review

Touch of Evil is a 1958 noir film directed by Orson Welles and starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh. It is one of the director’s best works and it is to me a pretty good movie, although very flawed in some areas.

It is about a Mexican man and his American wife who are caught in a variety of criminal and corrupt actions on the U.S.-Mexico border. Now first of all, I genuinely enjoyed this plot. It is entertaining and at tomes quite thrilling and very atmospheric. It is also a very well crafted and edited movie. What I liked the most about it is its incorporation of some clever themes. It wonderfully explores the misuse of power and the corruption in the police force. It also handles the subject of xenophobia towards Mexicans pretty well.

But on the other hand, that story is still way too simplistic and in its first half pretty ordinary. There are also some rather annoying and even racist moments. And the whole movie has some sort of negative energy filled with all-out craziness that I did not enjoy. But the biggest problem for this movie was Orson Welles himself. I have to admit that I am in the minority and that I am not a fan of his and usually his movies as well. And although I liked this one, I still would have preferred it to have been directed by a different director because I personally dislike his directorial style which is most evident in Touch of Evil itself. It is filled with weird camera angles with some even being very frustrating. I like a professional, still cinematography and I dislike this wild one at display here. Also the music. It is so uneven in tone and so out there, filled with a plethora of different styles that do not mash well together. I strongly disliked the direction here and it ruined the movie to some degree for me.

The characters are mostly good. Vargas is a typical good-natured protagonist but his troubles are relevant and well explored. Susan is also quite good and the relationship between the two is sweet. But Quinlan is of course the highlight with such a menacing presence, realistic behavior and some very powerful sequences. As for Mexican characters, they are all very typical and not at all memorable or likable.

The acting is superb here with Orson Welles being terrific. Yes, while I dislike his directing, I really like his acting on the other hand. And here is no exception. He gave life to the most important and best realized character here with a powerhouse performance to boot. Janet Leigh is also pretty good and I don’t know why she never had a particularly big career when she was a pretty good actress. But Charlton Heston is the weak link. And along with the directing, his performance is the biggest flaw in Touch of Evil. He’s just so-so, mostly whispering and at times when great acting is needed, he is rather mediocre and very problematic. My polarizing relationship with this actor continues as I think he is great in some movies but in others is pretty weak and this is unfortunately one of his weakest performances.

It is technically an ok film. The imagery is really evocative and the atmosphere is quite chilling with some rather tense scenes. The score and directing I disliked as mentioned before, but the acting is mostly good and the script is very sophisticated with some clever themes nicely realized. And the dialogue is very good and the overall movie is very realistic and admittedly quite memorable. It is not one of the best movies of 1958 and is a bit overrated, but this is still quite a good movie with many choices that bothered me, but with some that I found intriguing as well.

Touch of Evil has such a sophisticated script with nicely explored themes of corruption and xenophobia, it is also very well acted and quite atmospheric with a great villain and some intense moments, but it is also filled with some poor choices such as uneven score and annoying cinematography plus Charlton Heston gives one of his worst performances here. It is a very good film, but still far from great.

My Rating – 4

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