Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Movies Off the Beaten Path

Some movie recommendations for those who enjoy, as I do, old B&W films, mostly of foreign origin and generally noir-ish, if not outright desperate.

Many are available free from the library on LINKcat

La salaire de la peur (Blu-ray) The wages of fear / LINKcat - Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (Clouzot, H.-G. (Henri-Georges)

Wages of Fear was censored before it was considered safe for Americans to view.
In a small and isolated, hot and dusty Central American village, there's only one thing to do: dream of getting out. An opportunity for escape presents itself, but only to those with nerves of steel. An American oil company has offered to pay big money to get two trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over to a well fire. The catch is that the unpaved terrain contains enough bumps and crags to make the unstable material explode, instantly killing the driver. Nonetheless, the company has many applicants hungry for work, and a quartet of the coolest are chosen. But even these stalwart men will discover that fear of their deadly payload can ignite even the most frozen emotions.
Diabolique (Criterion Collection Spine #35) Stars Simone Signoret and Clouzot's wife, Vera, as teachers who plot to kill the headmaster. Plus Charles Vanel. Another masterpiece by Clouzot.

Le Corbeau (The Raven) - Criterion Collection

Le Corbeau Netflix

This movie, filmed during the Nazi occupation, got Clouzot in hot water with the Nazis and Vichy, but also got him a four-year post-war ban as a 'collobarator'!

The 39 Steps (Criterion Collection Spine #56
The 39 steps (DVD) LINKcat. Early Hitchcock film based on the John Buchan novel that is one of the earliest modern spy novels.

The Third Man (50th Anniversary Edition) - Criterion Collection
The Third man (DVD)

Set in post-war Vienna, an American western-adventure writer searches for a friend who turns out to be the king-pin of the Austrian black market. Stars Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.

Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) ~ Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. Howard's over-the-top play-acting as the foppish Sir Percy Blakeney must be seen. As must the beautiful Merle Oberon.

The Scarlet pimpernel LINKcat

Grim life in post-WW Two Italy: Bicycle Thieves (Criterion Collection)
View Item DetailsLadri di biciclette (DVD) Bicycle thieves LINKcat

Closely Watched Trains Netflix

Surrounded by but seemingly removed from the violence of World War II, a naïve railroad apprentice (Václav Neckár) working at a train station in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia carves some excitement out of his humdrum existence by exploring his own sexuality. Jirí Menzel directs this Oscar-winning foreign-film classic based on a novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, who co-wrote the screenplay with Menzel.

Osudy dobreho vojaka Svejka (DVD) The good soldier Schweik / LINKcat - and its sequel, Good Soldier Schweik 2: Beg to Report, Sir Netflix Hey, this one is actually funny.
Well-meaning soldier Schweik (Rudolf Hrusinsky) returns in this sequel to the uproarious first film based on Jaroslav Hasek's novel. Europe's own Forrest Gump, Schweik is back in action after causing mayhem galore in the first film. Always ready, willing and able, Schweik ambles through his military days unaware of the serious changes going on about him, successfully wreaking havoc with his superiors and the army despite his good intentions.

Fires on the Plain Netflix. Stow away the kiddies for this unrelentingly grim Japanese film on the last days of the war in a Japanese army unit. Come to think of it, put away all sharp objects, too.

In director Kon Ichikawa's harrowing film set in the Philippines during World War II, a Japanese soldier, his emotional and physical resources nearly depleted, endures the vicissitudes of war. Ichikawa, whom some cineastes say was as talented as his better-known contemporaries, including Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi, had a way with infusing light in the darkest places.


If you like any of these, take a look at this Listmania from an Amazon reviewer: 40 Favorite Films from the Criterion Collection.

Or check out this excellent blog: The Criterion Contraption

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