SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR (Fritz Lang, 1947)

Despite its faux-Freudianism and the director’s own rejection of it, Secret Beyond the Door is without doubt Fritz Lang’s best film of the 1940s. Indeed, it is a fabulous, dreamy blend of the Bluebeard legend and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), which it eerily evokes, and, like Rebecca, one of the most compelling tortured-romances to emerge […]

DEAD OF NIGHT (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945)

Inexhaustibly fresh and macabre, despite being copied for more than sixty years, the great British horror anthology Dead of Night remains a masterpiece of terror. The protagonist is architect Walter Craig, who is tormented by a recurrent, possibly deadly dream amongst strangers in a country farmhouse, in whose space he has arrived to design two […]

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER (Tony Richardson, 1962)

Those foolish enough to plead British director Tony Richardson’s case in film—apparently Richardson did better in theater—always consider as their heaviest piece of artillery The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, written by Alan Sillitoe from his own short story, and starring the always dreadful, thuddingly selfconscious Tom Courtenay (best actor, Mar del Plata), here […]

THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP (Leslie Norman, 1955)

According to this British airflight thriller, the Chinese are “medieval” in their “superstitiousness,” believing that nightmares are premonitions of disaster. The flight in question, in The Night My Number Came Up, is from Bangkok to Tokyo. Its details, including a deadly storm, are shared at a Hong Kong dinner party, and the flight the next […]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Anthony Asquith, 1952)

It is outrageous that some would think that Anthony Asquith’s charming, delightful, occasionally hilarious The Importance of Being Earnest, from Oscar Wilde’s 1895 play, is anything less than cinematic. I say this because the front-end and back-end set-up, based on the rising and closing curtain of a stage performance of the play, is deliberately stagy […]