DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Billy Wilder, 1944)

The two greatest genres in classic Hollywood cinema are the western and the film noir. An exemplary instance of the latter is Double Indemnity. It is, along with another noir, Sunset Boulevard (1950), Billy Wilder’s most celebrated film, and it’s close to being his masterpiece. Wilder and mystery writer Raymond Chandler based their script on […]

CABARET (Bob Fosse, 1972)

Cabaret is so much better than Bob Fosse’s previous film, Sweet Charity (1969), and so much better than anything else that Fosse did afterwards, that one is inclined to be generous about it. For me, the film conjures happy memories of how royally it entertained when it first came out. Moreover, Liza Minnelli, the picture’s […]

I WAS NINETEEN (Konrad Wolf, 1967)

“It is the destiny of Germans to unite the good of all peoples.”      — eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant “Beautiful was once my Fatherland, / Where once proud oaks did grow so tall,/ And violets did so gently sway./ Alas! I dreamt it all.”      — nineteenth-century German poet Heinrich Heine “A bad dancer is hindered […]

LA FEMME INFIDELE (Claude Chabrol, 1968)

With the exception of Richard Gere’s superlative acting, Adrian Lyne’s 2002 Unfaithful is worthless—mere entertainment. Yet the film that this sentimental monstrosity endeavors to remake, Claude Chabrol’s 1968 La femme infidèle (The Unfaithful Wife), is even better than I remembered. Disciplined, rigorous, profound, it is one of Chabrol’s masterpieces. The differences between the two films […]