ALIBI (Roland West, 1929)

Until the contrived ending where vicious young gangster Chick Williams turns sickeningly cowardly, Chester Morris gives a crackerjack performance in Roland West’s engrossing, visually exhilarating Alibi. Indeed, one of the things that interferes with our pleasure while we watch this famous film is precisely the play on which it is based: Nightstick, by John Griffith […]

THE MERCHANT OF FOUR SEASONS (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971)

Händler der vier Jahreszeiten filters most everything through economic arrangements. One might assume that something suiting this description would be dry, offputting, schematic; yet writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film is humane, moving, rich. It ends with a veiled suicide, a night’s drinking by a man whose recent heart attack requires him to refrain from alcohol; […]

VERONIKA VOSS (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982)

Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s penultimate film, concludes his Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD) Trilogy addressing the spiritual and moral price that West Germany had paid for its postwar economic recovery and its military revival, ironically, at the behest of the U.S. and Western Europe, which felt threatened by Soviet communism. Adenauer, Eisenhower, […]