THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (Otto Preminger, 1955)

Frank Sinatra and Eleanor Parker are not among my favorite film stars; normally, both are emotionally thin, morose, depressive—in Sinatra’s case, even in romantic musical-comedies. But, giving their finest, most compelling performances, they are terrific as Frankie and Zosch Machine, the newly ex-con/struggling ex-druggie and his wheelchair-bound manipulative wife, in separate quarters in a southside […]

PORGY AND BESS (Otto Preminger, 1959)

Rouben Mamoulian must have hated Otto Preminger. Producer Preminger fired director Mamoulian from Laura (1944) and took over the direction himself. Fifteen years later, producer Samuel Goldwyn fired Mamoulian from Porgy and Bess and substituted Preminger. Mamoulian had directed the original 1935 stage production of George and Ira Gershwin’s folk opera. The film, which has […]

BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING (Otto Preminger, 1965)

Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake Is Missing is a brilliant mystery and a piercing study of twisted family relations.      Single mother Ann Lake has just moved from Boston to London with the help of her brother, Steven, a reporter; when Ann goes to a private school to retrieve her 4-year-old daughter, Bunny cannot be found, nor […]

THE CARDINAL (Otto Preminger, 1963)

Victorian poet Matthew Arnold’s dictum “Not deep the poet sees, but wide” can be applied to Otto Preminger’s post-Fox films, especially his widescreen dramatic extravaganzas. Those who cannot take Preminger seriously and those who reject Arnold’s remark probably largely coincide. I love Exodus (1960), In Harm’s Way (1965) and, in between, The Cardinal, from Henry […]