CUL-DE-SAC (Roman Polanski, 1966)

Roman Polanski recently won the directorial prize at Berlin for his exhilarating, humane The Ghost Writer (2009); but more than forty years ago a film of his took the top prize, the Golden Bear, at the same international film festival. This was the British Cul-de-sac, Polanski’s second, black-and-white film after exiting Communist Poland.      Two wounded […]

ALICE ADAMS (George Stevens, 1935)

Everyone complains about the tacked-on happy ending that Alice Adams is given in the famous film version that George Stevens directed. Nonsense. Given the all-round softening here of Booth Tarkington’s considerably darker, edgier 1921 novel, the original ending would no longer fit and this new one fits such fine. The film we all love—and most […]

A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG (Charles Chaplin, 1966)

Charles Chaplin’s final film, A Countess from Hong Kong, was initially drubbed for lacking the inspiration of his earlier masterpieces. Andrew Sarris analyzed this assault by “critics” as their self-serving “power play” and called the unfairly maligned film “the quintessence of everything Chaplin has ever felt.” But even Sarris, while praising one scene for being […]