Mervyn LeRoy – Any Number Can Play (1949)

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Plot Synopsis by Mark Deming
In this light drama, Clark Gable once again played his stock-in-trade role of a rogue with a heart of gold. Charlie King (Gable) runs a casino, but, in a business that thrives among the unscrupulous, Charlie takes pride in running an honest game and treating his customers with fairness and respect. However, Charlie’s wife Lon (Alexis Smith) doesn’t care if he runs a fair game — she regards gambling as a dirty and corrupt business, and no matter how honest Charlie may be, he’s still involved in a wicked activity. Charlie’s son Paul (Darryl Hickman) is also against him; when Paul gets in trouble and Charlie bails him out of jail, he refuses to leave with him, instead going home with mother. Charlie invites Paul to see what his casino is like, and Lon agrees that Paul should know just what his father does. Continue reading Mervyn LeRoy – Any Number Can Play (1949)

Terence Fisher – The Brides of Dracula (1960)

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The vampire Baron Meinster (David Peel) terrorizes a girl’s academy, and it’s up to Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) to stop him…

Following the phenomenal success of their 1958 version of Dracula (released in the U.S. as Horror Of Dracula), Hammer Studios mulled over the idea for the inevitable sequel. 1960’s The Brides Of Dracula is misleadingly titled, in that Dracula himself never appears, but it’s a worthy follow-up that, for many fans, actually eclipses the original. Precisely why Dracula doesn’t factor into the narrative is open to speculation. Hammer was obviously looking to capitalize on their biggest success, so why not bring back Christopher Lee to essay the role that made him famous? Some sources indicate that Lee refused a sequel, fearing that he’d become typecast in the role just as Bela Lugosi had been before him. Yet other sources, including Lee himself, refute this claim. Regardless, despite its title, Brides Of Dracula charts the exploits of Dracula’s disciple, Baron Meinster. Establishing continuity between the two films is the heroic/obsessed Dr. Van Helsing, played once again by Peter Cushing. Continue reading Terence Fisher – The Brides of Dracula (1960)

Preston Sturges – The Lady Eve [+Extras] (1941)

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“Criterion” wrote:
A conniving father and daughter meet up with the heir to a brewery fortune—a wealthy but naïve snake enthusiast—and attempt to bamboozle him at a cruise ship card table. Their plan is quickly abandoned when the daughter falls in love with their prey. But when the heir gets wise to her gold-digging ways, she must plot to re-conquer his heart. One of Sturges’s most clever and beloved romantic comedies, The Lady Eve balances broad slapstick and sophisticated sexiness with perfect grace. Continue reading Preston Sturges – The Lady Eve [+Extras] (1941)

Pietro Germi – La presidentessa AKA Mademoiselle Gobete (1952)

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Based loosely on fact, La Presidentress stars Silvana Pampanini as a sexy nightclub singer with loftier aspirations. Posing as the wife of a judge, the singer manages to bed a high-ranking government official (Carlo Dapporto). As a result, the nonplused judge (Luigi Pavese) is given all sorts of promotions and special perks. When he finds out about the girl’s subterfuge, his first reaction is stark, raw terror: Wait till his real wife (Ave Ninchi) discovers what’s going on! When the judge’s former mistress (Marilyn Buferd) joins the fray, the fur really begins to fly. Continue reading Pietro Germi – La presidentessa AKA Mademoiselle Gobete (1952)

Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront (1954)

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synopsis
This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of New York and New Jersey. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) rules the waterfront with an iron fist. The police know that he’s been responsible for a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb (“plead D & D”). Washed-up boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) has had an errand-boy job because of the influence of his brother Charley, a crooked union lawyer (Rod Steiger). Witnessing one of Friendly’s rub-outs, Terry is willing to keep his mouth shut until he meets the dead dockworker’s sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint). “Waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) tells Terry that Edie’s brother was killed because he was going to testify against boss Friendly before the crime commission. Because he could have intervened, but didn’t, Terry feels somewhat responsible for the death. When Father Barry receives a beating from Friendly’s goons, Terry is persuaded to cooperate with the commission. Featuring Brando’s famous “I coulda been a contendah” speech, On the Waterfront has often been seen as an allegory of “naming names” against suspected Communists during the anti-Communist investigations of the 1950s. Continue reading Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront (1954)

William Dieterle – The Secret Bride (1934)

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Plot: Before Ruth Vincent, daughter of a state governor, and state attorney general Robert Sheldon can announce their marriage, the governor is accused of bribe-taking. To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, they decide to keep their marriage secret. The political intrigue becomes more involved, and no one is quite what they seem. Soon Sheldon and Ruth must decide between saving the governor’s career and an innocent person’s life. Written by Rod Crawford Continue reading William Dieterle – The Secret Bride (1934)

Roberto Rossellini – Giovanna d’Arco al rogo AKA Joan at the Stake (1954)

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It was once said of Ingrid Bergman that she’d played Joan of Arc so often that she wouldn’t be satisfied until she was burned at the stake. Actually, nobody ever said that, but someone should have. Directed by Bergman’s then-husband Roberto Rossellini, Joan at the Stake is a nonmusical adaptation of the oratorio by Paul Claudel and Arthur Honegger. Essentially a glorified monologue, the film makes no bones about its theatricality. Bergman is impressive as always, far more so than the presentation. While not nearly as bad as its reputation suggests, Joan at the Stake was a box-office flop, principally because the torrid Bergman-Rossellini romance was old news by 1954. Continue reading Roberto Rossellini – Giovanna d’Arco al rogo AKA Joan at the Stake (1954)