Gunga Din (1939)

Gunga Din is one of the maddest films I’ve seen in a long time. Five minutes in I was wondering how I even came to watch it (answer: Cary Grant is in it, although wasted). Ten minutes and I wondered whether I’d make it through without automatically entering some sort of healing coma. Continue reading

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Sunset Boulevard (1950)

It’s difficult to pick a “best” film or even a favourite one. What’s the point anyway – there really is no need for this kind of silliness. There are so many great films after all. Nevertheless, I have little doubt what to pick when asked. It’s a film that astonished me when I first saw it. It’s one I think everybody should see. It still astonishes and captivates me. Continue reading

Stalag 17 (1953)

Stalag 17 is a funny war film. Not strange, but funny. It’s a comedy-drama set in a German POW camp during the Second World War. Its tone is quite similar to M*A*S*H – the television series, not the actually-dark-humoured film. There’s even a narrator who sounds quite like Hawkeye. Of course, Stalag 17 came much earlier – one of the first in a rich decade for POW dramas. Don’t like war films? I watched this one with my parents and they both loved it. Continue reading

Confession (1937)

Mazurka was a 1935 German film (named for the Polish folk dance), supposedly based on a 1930 murder case. I haven’t been able to track down any more detail on the real events, which is a shame as it would be nice to find out what really happened. What we do have is the German film, starring the beautiful Polish actress Pola Negri, and the 1937 US remake, Confession, starring Kay Francis, one of the queens of 1930s Hollywood. Neither are that easy to come by but are available on DVD. According to the excellent Kay Francis fan site, kayfrancisfilms.com, Confession was only made available for the first time on any home video format on the 25th of August this year, along with a whole load of other Francis films. Worth importing from the US? Continue reading

After the Thin Man (1936)

The are six Thin Man films, After being the second in a series that spanned from 1934 to 1947. Like the first film, After the Thin Man is an off-the-wall comedy about a retired detective and his rich wife who solve crimes for fun in their spare time (that being all of their time). In both there’s enough plotting and mystery to make them work as straight-up crime films but you also get the playful antics of Nick and Nora’s adventures in marital life, dog ownership and drinking… and there’s a lot of drinking. The couple’s seeming indifference to serious matters and not allowing them to derail their daily doings, drinkings and whims is where the films’ charm really lies. Yes, there may be a plot, but it’s merely a distant backdrop to the faces pulled by a semi-sober couple trying to make scrambled eggs at two in the morning or trying to retrieve a piece of evidence from their dog before he eats it. Continue reading