“Inhuman, indecent, and the quintessence of gruesomeness . . . “Our Final Noir Triple-Bill

For our final 1950’s film noir class, our teacher Elliot Lavine handed us three films, and all I can say is . . . nobody said making it to the end in a noir world would be easy. First of all, these films are not all late examples; rather they span most of the decade, from 1953 – 1958, so you … Continue reading “Inhuman, indecent, and the quintessence of gruesomeness . . . “Our Final Noir Triple-Bill

BLACKLIST BLUES: Two by Losey, One by Dassin

We’re almost halfway through my 50’s film noir class, and one major theme has emerged, that of the great number of directors and screenwriters, their Hollywood careers shut down by the Communist blacklist, who flocked to noir as an outlet to both make money and vent their feelings about our troubled country. Some of them, like writer Dalton Trumbo, … Continue reading BLACKLIST BLUES: Two by Losey, One by Dassin

SPIELBERG’S WEST SIDE STORY: Update or Improvement?

In 1957, when live theatre still rivaled movies for social relevance, and the latest Tin Pan Alley songs burst through the radio and were hummed everywhere, Broadway was teeming with musicals. Considering that the heyday of musical theatre was the 1930’s-1940’s, what’s interesting is how experimental the major composers got. Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon enchanted audiences with its … Continue reading SPIELBERG’S WEST SIDE STORY: Update or Improvement?

A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a – caw caw!”                                                              (T.S. Eliot, via Woody Woodpecker) All good things must come to an end, and the end of my ten-week course on the best of Alfred Hitchcock has been . . . apocalyptic. In our final class last night the … Continue reading A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

I can just imagine the Hollywood studios in 1959 watching North by Northwest and heaving a great big sigh of relief! At last - they thought – the Master of Suspense has finally gotten the message!! NO more art films, NO more experiments. Just good old fashioned exciting-but-wholesome entertainment. Certainly they had cause for hope: Alfred Hitchcock had come this close to … Continue reading A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho