THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (Robert Siodmak, 1945)

In the 1940s Hollywood produced a number of excellent period thrillers, including John Brahm’s The Lodger, about Jack the Ripper, George Cukor’s Gaslight and Jacques Tourneur’s Experiment Perilous (all 1944). Perhaps the best of the batch is The Spiral Staircase, made by German filmmaker Robert Siodmak during his stay in the States after he had […]

FINDING NEVERLAND (Marc Forster, 2004)

One of the most grotesque, monstrously sentimental movies of recent memory, besides Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004), is Monster’s Ball (2001), about a prison guard who falls in love with the widow of an executed man. The guard is a white racist; the woman, like her deceased husband and their young son, is African-American. […]

JOURNEY INTO FEAR (Norman Foster, 1942)

Journey Into Fear, from Eric Ambler, was written by Joe Cotten (meaning, Orson Welles perhaps?), “designed” by Orson Welles but signed (for whatever reasons of studio politics) by Norman Foster, and enacted by Welles, Cotten, Warrick, Moorehead, Dolores Del Rio, Everett Sloane, etc. The Nazis are gunning for Cotten, an American businessman, who, ironically, is […]


Luis Buñuel’s Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie is a title worthy of this beautiful satire. Its members of the French upper middle-class, along with a South American ambassador, keep having their meals interrupted and aborted. It’s a crisis of culturally elevated coitus interruptus.      First, a group arrives for dinner, only to have their hostess […]