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 […]


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 […]

MR. ARKADIN (Orson Welles, 1955)

The film known in Britain as Confidential Report is among Orson Welles’s lamest films. It is intriguing and visually dazzling nevertheless. It is as intricate as a dense spiderweb—in some ways, a Trial run for his end-of-Europe, end-of-the-world masterpiece (1962) from Kafka.      The protagonist is Guy van Stratten—it turns out, a false identity in a […]