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Reviews

Waterloo Road
(1945)

Energic John Mills
"Waterloo road" is a fine entertainment with John Mills fleeing army to see his love purchased by the young seducer Stewart Granger. John Mills is himself purchased by military police and jumps and runs with high speed energy. Lot of details on WWII in London. Cinematography by Arthur Crabtree.

Wanted for Murder
(1946)

Mainly for Eric Portman
"Wanted for murder" is an investigation on a serial killer. We know from the beginning his identity, and the inspector quickly suspects him, so there is no real suspense, the story is mostly predictable. There are even some clues that are not exploited, or sometimes badly. The main interest is Eric Portman, discovering his illness, but Pressburger's script could have been more precise by checking some holes in the story. Max Green's photography is a must. This movie remains entertaining.

China
(1943)

Great war movie by John Farrow
I'm surprised there are so few reviews for this exciting war movie directed by talented and eclectic director John Farrow who was always trying to direct intelligent real time shots. And the beginning of "China" is a masterpiece, William Bendix running through a bombed town, it's a very complex real time shot that deserves to be shown in movie universities, maybe Hitchcock saw it and used some techniques for his "Rope", or Orson Welles for "Touch of evil".

Alan Ladd plays tough adventurer David Jones (Indiana could be his cousin) in China in war with Japanese. When he surprises three Japanese raping a young Chinese girl, his hate for these invaders is at its peak as he becomes a Japanese military killer. The ultimate confrontation with a jap general is striking.

He's helped by fellow William Bendix and beautiful Loretta Young.

Maybe low budget movie, but a fast paced gem for intelligent propagenda. "China" deserves recognition.

Il ferroviere
(1956)

Pietro Germi is a forfotten great director
I was puzzled when I discovered "In nome della legge", kind of Sicilian western with a young new judge facing local hostilities. It was the first movie directed by Pietro Germi I saw. I just found this "Ferroviere" and seeing it was another slap in my face, with sequences rarely seen in any movie of that period. Even more important, I discovered a very impressive Pietro Germi playing a railroad driver who prefers singing and boozing in the local pub than going quietly home with his family. Imagine the point of view of his very young son, it's him who describe the story. I tried not to spoil, but there are many details and situations rarely seen or shown at that period, plus Pietro Germi's tough performance, "Ferroviere" is a must seen. Really.

5% de risque
(1980)

Forgotten French crime movie
This is really sad this French crime movie is forgotten, I remember how I appreciated its originality when I saw it when released. I missed the video cassette, I finally just found it and I still appreciate its originality more than 40 years after. I reckon it wasn't enough commercial and made no money, so it stayed hidden and forgotten since. We hope it will reappear soon with the blu-ray wave and editors' interest in forgotten B movies.

Director Jean Pourtalé did a great job though he was not very much experienced. Bruno Ganz was perfectly directed as a scientist taking more and more risks in his project to kill a friend's blackmailer, and it's a very surprising risk becoming more and more dangerous. Jean-Pierre Cassel is also touching as the blackmailer's victim (don't miss his fantastic "show"). It's time to release at last this hidden gem.

Patrouille blanche
(1942)

Mainly for the casting
An ok film with the sadistic Sessue Hayakawa as a terrorist. Nice casting in general, but the best being of course Robert Le Vigan, again and surprisingly very impressive. Some nice scenes in the mountains. Some surprising shots from a director who was far away from masters of the 30's like Duvivier.

Les miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois
(1951)

War melodrama
Jean Marais falls in love with Allida Valli. They have a love affair in Tuscany. But WWII is declared, and Jean becomes a soldier. Jean loses contact with his love. Eleven years later, he decides to go to Italy to search her. He finally finds her but love has disappeared. They strongly try to find love again.

Yves Allégret had just shot his three noir masterpieces before this melodrama, rather depressing with no particular dynamy. That kind of melodrama with a love story not very convincing is not for me.

But there are some great scenes. During the war period, an officer makes a remark to Jean, this shot is fabulous, the setting is grey, just the ground and the wall with no objects, just a famous war poster. And what a great choice to shoot the love story in the romantic village of San Gimignano, not far from Firenze, with these old towers.

Yves Allégret, Jacques Sigurd and Jean Marais will do much better with "Nez de Cuir".

Balthazar
(1937)

Slight provincial comedy
Rich Jules Berry meets characters from south of France (what a great moment with a bartender) and help them to change their life. But who is exactly Balthazar ? Not exactly a masterpiece, but with Alerme and Charpin and others, it remains a fine entertainment in the Pagnol style, though far from it. And a perfect character for Jules Berry who steals the show, especially in the end. Shot in Ramatuelle. Now on DVD, never released before I think, OK print.

Blue jeans
(1958)

A pre Adieu Philippine by Jacques Rozier.
If you appreciate "Adieu Philippine" by Jacques Rozier (his first long feature about youth), you must see "Blue Jeans", a short feature shot 5 years earlier, same kind of story, two young friends on Vespa trying to pick up girls on the south French coast. They both already look like the boys in "Adieu Philippine", not very smart trying desperetly to be funny with girls to get a date. And also already Cuban Cha Cha music. That kind of movie is almost unique document in France. Enjoy.

Anna Karenina
(1948)

Great direction by Julien Duvivier
Yes, Julien Duvivier directed brilliantly Vivian Leigh and Ralph Richardson playing wife and husband hating each other in spite of a lovely son. Vivian has a really charming face and Ralph is so cold as an important bourgeois, they fit together as a sad couple. But I don't understand how can she be in love with Kieron Moore, handsome but woodenly inexpressive. There's also Sally Ann Howes as the touching fragile Kitty. But sadly, there's one character totally missing in the movie, it's the son of Vivian and Ralph, we see him only in one short scene, so I didn't understand why the script didn't show Vivian's love to her son, she wants to see him, but she doesn't even speak about her love for him.

The art direction and costumes are magnificent, but would have been much stronger in color (like "Blanche Fury" directed by another French director, Marc Allégret at the same time in England).

But there are enough brilliant scenes to forget those holes in production. I wanted to finish with master cinematographer Henry Alekan, who helped a lot in some most impressive visual scenes.

Non coupable
(1947)

"I'm a finished man"
From Henry Decoin, here is another of his noir masterpieces, just remember "la Fille du diable", "l'Homme de Londres", "Entre 11 heures et minuit", "Razzia sur la chnouf", "Maléfices" among his best (forgive me if I've forgotten titles). "Non coupable" is one of Michel Simon's best movie, I just can't imagine this movie with another actor, he's so brilliant as a desperate loser trying to be a criminal genius to find a reason of living, the exact opposite of Monsieur Hire in "Panique" (shot one year earlier) who is innocent. In "Non Coupable", like in some movies by Duvivier or Dassin, I just can't see any fine character. Really dark as the cinematography by Jacques Lemare. On location, it was shot around Chartres and as many movies shot in a town, it was first shown there (like "Pontcarral" in Angoulême, "le Loup des Malveneurs" in Aurillac, "Jour de Fête" in Sainte Sévère... ). The script by Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon is perfect. I forget the second happy ending, not really satisfying. Sauvajon also wrote the excellent "Vautrin" for Michel Simon (one of his great double character) and of course worked on "la Fille du Diable".

Michel Simon was a true genius, his presence on screen remains for me the toughest ever.

"Non Coupable" belongs to his most productive period with so many masterpieces ("Vautrin", "Un ami viendra ce soir", "Panique", "la Beauté du Diable", "la Poison", "la Vie d'un honnête homme", and I admire "Un certain Monsieur Jo" in which he's again so impressively tough). In 1947, Michel Simon and Henri Decoin worked together for another forgotten masterpiece, "les Amants du Pont Saint-Jean" (with Jacques Lemare again as cinematographer).

War Party
(1988)

Nasty party
During a peaceful reconstitution of an old battle between Indians and American soldiers, an Indian is killed with true munitions by a boozed white man and racial tension explodes again and again and again...

The first sequence is unique, beginning with a close up of a feather flowing to the corpse of a dead Indian, then we discover more and more surprising situations. There are a lot of surprising situations, shot in amazing Montana locations.

What a pity, War Party is unavailable in br or even dvd, only in vintage VHS or on YouTube. It really deserves recognition. Director Franc Roddam has shot very few movies, I've only seen Quadrophenia about mods in England, at the total opposite of War Party. Hanx PG.

Mon chien
(1955)

Dog is the best friend of man
Franju's cinematography writing is so precise. In August, a rich couple closes their house, get into the car with their daughter and her beloved dog. They take speedway then a wild path in a forrest. Are they arrived yet to their holiday house in some nice castle surrounded by forest animals? The couple seem unsympathetic, not smiling, the woman making me think of Signoret in les Diaboliques when she drives. Then, what does the father is a trauma for the girl screaming in the forest. The following scenes are more and more sad. Another stylish short by Franju, the only director to show what other directors wouldn't, with always precise and quick shots of horrible situations.

Le théâtre national populaire
(1956)

Rare short by Franju
Gaumont just edited a DVD with some shorts directed by George Franju. Maybe Tnp is the rarest, I don't remember having seen it. It's a real pleasure to see Jean Vilar directing Monique Chaumette. And to discover rare passages with Maria Casares, Gérard Philipe, Georges Wilson, Jean Topart, Sylvia Montfort,... Many shorts like this Franju are desperetly invisible when there so much to discover.

La fille perdue
(1954)

Claudine Dupuis and Robert Berri
The beautiful Claudine Dupuis works in a night club "helped" by violent Robert Berri (the first part of the movie takes place inside and Berri is really violent, always smoking viciously). The dangerous Berri "gives" Dupuis' daughter to an old friend of her in exchange of money. Dupuis wants to take back her daughter. But Berri is extremely wicked and violent, it will be tough.

Richard Berri is really impressive, he makes me think of Charles Mac Graw. Claudine Dupuis is touching as the loving mother, during shooting she was very close to Zizi Saint Clair, her daughter in the movie and the director Jean Gourguet's own daughter. And we see that love on screen. A solid melodrama with lot of film noir scenes.

Jean Gourguet had some problems with censorship, shooting too much sexy or violent scenes. He bought in 1953 the movie theatre l'Escurial in which he installed Cinémascope.

They Made Me a Fugitive
(1947)

A top English Noir
Yes, this is a tremendous British film noir. Strong story of a wrong criminal played by an explosive Trevor Howard jammed in a black market criminal business. He gets caught, then gets out of prison. Then chase.

All is perfect, very speedy editing, impressive cinematography, tough actors direction (Trevor Howard) and very best of all the dialogues, so cynical.

And this crazy ending.

What a must.

Un soir de rafle
(1931)

Mostly for the first part
The first part is very fine for me. A sailor (Albert Préjean) meets a young woman singer (Annabella), they fall in love and are happy. This part is amazingly shot and edited, it's romantic and fun. But when the sailor becomes a boxer, the young woman turns sad and melodramatic, and it's more predictable as the sailor boozes all around. The cast is great, except Lucien Barroux and his comic scenes ruining the story. Special mention to Constant Rémy as the old boxer. Written by two future directors in France, Clouzot and Decoin.

Les débuts de Max au cinéma
(1910)

Early Max Linder
One of the first short directed by Max Linder with another completely different subject, Max playing in a movie, he's a beginner and he has no charisma and he is weak. He gets slapped and receives furniture on the head after having been thrown out of a flat. This short is a witness of early cinema, with some personalities like Charles Pathé. A document but not the best of Max Linder.

Max in a Taxi
(1917)

Taxi!!!!
In this short, Max is the shame of the family, he's a heavy boozer with not a dime in his pocket, his father throws him out. Max finds an invitation to a dancing party and messes around (Peter Sellers, did you see that one?). Max finally works as a cab driver, but with no experience. Enjoy Max and his acrobaties.

Max en convalescence
(1911)

Pony star
Again a short Max Linder with no romance and no direct slapstick by ML, the real star here being a truculent pony doing silly stupidities to bother Max. Fortunately, there is a wonderful dog to help Max. Very entertaining.

Max Linder pratique tous les sports
(1913)

Sportive Max
Again, a special short by Max Linder, no romance, no real slapstick, but only sport. The winner marries a rich American woman. A little surprise in rowing, it's called the little Niagara. The boxing sequence is also interesting, with one small gag and a tough fight for Max. Not the best Max Linder, but still entertaining.

L'anglais tel que Max le parle
(1914)

Try a little tenderness
Another short by Max Linder, but not a pure slapstick, rather romantic in its first part, then some usual great gags by ML. Notice there are no intertitles though it's the encounter of the French seducer and an English pretty young woman. They understand each other with drawings, and it's sometimes really romantic. As usual in ML movies, women are naturally charming and smiling. Max Linder's vision of human nature is enthusiastically entertaining. Hanx again.

Seven Years Bad Luck
(1921)

A 100 years old masterpiece
Yes, that American movie shot by the French genius Max Linder is 100 years old, and sadly not very well known. As I already said in my reviews about his short movies, Max Linder was a pioneer in slapstick. After a nasty period for ML (WWI and personal depression), he tried a long feature in United States, and directed a masterpiece with lot of gags and some genius sequences : of course the mirror scene, and also the station scene when he finds a way to get in the train without ticket, that scene proves how much he thinks how to place intelligently his camera.

Max Linder was handsome, funny, charming, precise. In all his movies I saw, they were all brilliantly shot and edited, really fast paced. Despite a DVD box, he still remains forgotten. But not with the kids in my family, they love Max.

Les vacances de Max
(1914)

Another hit by Max Linder
Max Linder must leave for a mansion only for men, leaving desperately his beloved wife. But he can't leave her, so he decides to take her in a suitcase. But that won't be easy at all.

Yes Chaplin has seen Max Linder' movies, especially this one. But ML himself has seen some George Méliès' masterpieces, and it's obvious in the suitcase scene. Another hit by Max Linder.

Le baromètre de la fidélité
(1915)

Inventive Max Linder
As always in any Max Linder short, each subject is shot and told in an unexpected and hilarious way with a tough speedy rhythm. Here's the apparion of a barometer of love in a couple's life. If the water gets dark, it's bad sign of course. So a servant has the nasty idea to pour some ink in it, and gags profuse till the very last inventive one. Bravo again Max Linder.

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