OUR MAN IN HAVANA (Carol Reed, 1959)

By harkening back to their coolly corrupt postwar Vienna in The Third Man (1949), even to the point of including a couple of tilted shots in ominous nighttime streets, scenarist Graham Greene and director Carol Reed’s Our Man in Havana, set in the politically sour Cuban metropolis just prior to Castro’s revolutionary overturn, projects an […]

THE HORSE’S MOUTH (Ronald Neame, 1958)

Having just been Oscared for his thin, wooden acting in The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957), Alec Guinness (best actor, Venice, Sant Jordi) gave a stupendous performance as unkempt, scurrilous, gravely-voiced Gulley Jimson, a painter (in the manner of Blake) whose poverty matches his seesawing megalomania and humility in the striking comedy […]


“He seemed a very pleasant fellow, and I regretted that our acquaintanceship had to be so short.” — Louis Mazzini Brilliantly written by its director, Robert Hamer, and John Dighton, Kind Hearts and Coronets is a piercingly funny consideration of upper-class British arrogance. The aristocratic D’Ascoynes family has disinherited one of their own because of […]


The first stretch of Great Expectations, prior to the one year jump-ahead, may be the finest passage in David Lean’s œuvre, principally for its conjoining of his splendid evocation of Pip’s anxious orphaned boyhood and Guy Green’s haunting, crisp, gray (and Oscar-winning) black-and-white cinematography. Especially wonderful, and gorgeous, is Pip’s secret return to the fog-drenched […]

OLIVER TWIST (David Lean, 1948)

In Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist the contrived happy outcome for young Twist brings to fruition the novel’s (especially early on) comical narration; but by deleting this humorous dimension, David Lean’s 1948 film, like so many film adaptations of the book, abandons the silly plot by having it stand on its own. (Also, a few details […]