THE KILLERS (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

Although it pales beside Andrei Tarkovsky’s version of the same 1927 Ernest Hemingway story, “The Killers,” ten years hence, Robert Siodmak’s version is entirely different. Whereas Tarkovsky’s film conforms to the story, exhausting it and being exhausted by it, only the opening of Siodmak’s film conforms to the text, which is a springboard for the […]

UBIYTSY (Andrei Tarkovsky, Aleksandr Gordon, 1956)

Andrei Tarkovsky was a 24-year-old film student when he co-wrote and co-directed, along with fellow student Aleksandr Gordon, this gripping, suspenseful, philosophical version of Ernest Hemingway’s 1927 “The Killers,” a short story that consists almost entirely of dialogue—dialogue so craftily repetitious and, given the deadly situation in which it arises, piercingly comical that one wonders […]

THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T (Roy Rowland, 1953)

“Children seldom have a choice in parents.” The key to understanding Roy Rowland’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which Stanley Kramer produced, lies in a comparison of children’s piano instructor Dr. T—Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conreid)—in 11-year-old reluctant tutee Bartholomew Collins’s reality and his nightmarish daydreams. Terwilliker is pretty much the same in both, which […]

I MARRIED A WITCH (René Clair, 1942)

“Every man who marries marries ‘the wrong woman.’” A brilliantly funny performance in The Royal Family of Broadway (George Cukor, Cyril Gardner, 1930) brought movie stardom to Fredric March, who rarely, though memorably, performed comical roles thereafter, for instance, in Wild Bill Wellman’s Nothing Sacred (1937) opposite Carole Lombard. But a very funny March is […]

NEDA

One hand, palm up, won’t recapture the other, her spilt blood pale as water. Eyes vanish like a line of Basij attack— eyes cold as glass against the storm. We still hear the echo of her voice (Neda, you know, is Farsi for voice), and we imagine its becoming a wind that will pity all […]