WC Fields and Mae West

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Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon

    Look at all those 1960s heist movies – gents with David Niven accents in cat-burglar outfits effortlessly walking out of Monte Carlo with a heist of diamonds. How different the 1970s heist movie. In the decade when it became apparent that, economically, everything was falling apart, director Sidney Lumet caught the mood perfectly … Read more

Jeremy Theobald in Christopher Nolan's debut, Following

Following

    Can you honestly tell from Following, that its first-time director Christopher Nolan is only two years away from making Memento, the film that put him on Hollywood producers’ speed-dials? Shot on weekends and holidays guerrilla-style around London for about $6,000, it is a real “you saw it here first” effort and the acting … Read more

The Third Man

The Third Man

    So much is right about the Third Man that could have gone so wrong. Producer David O. Selznick wanted it shot entirely on studio sets. Director Carol Reed disagreed and won, which is why it’s shot on the dank streets of post-war Vienna, a city as overrun with black marketeers as the film … Read more

Lorraine Stanley and Georgia Groome in London to Brighton

London to Brighton

London, 3.07am, in a horrible manky toilet, Joanne, a very young girl (Georgia Groome) is having the lipstick wiped from her teary face by Kelly, an older woman (Lorraine Stanley), whose bulldog features have taken a battering and who’s wearing a skirt so short she can only be a prostitute. Who are they? What’s going … Read more

Traffic

Traffic

      Traffic started life as Traffik, a 1989 mega-mini-series following the heroin trail from Pakistan through Germany and into the UK. It was brutal, it was gruelling and it was a cracker. The decision to remake it as a leg-knotting 2hr 20 min single film, and transfer the action to Mexico and the … Read more

Daryl Sabara, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega and Antonio Banderas in Spy Kids

Spy Kids

    Ever since he’d arrived in 1992 with his made-for-nothing El Mariachi, director Robert Rodriguez had been readying himself for Hollywood primetime. His 1996 grindhouse vampire comedy From Dusk till Dawn had allowed him to play with a big name cast (Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek and a new-to-movies George Clooney) and special … Read more

Björk and Catherine Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark

      Is it “Unique” (CNN), “Heartbreaking” (The Independent), “Riveting” (Radio Times)? Or, perhaps, “Ludicrous” (Daily Mail), “Numbing” (Salon.com) or “Grim” (TV Guide)? Lars Von Trier’s low-rent, grainy tale of the Czech immigrant in the USA who is losing her sight, made according to the minimalist Dogme manifesto, won the Palme D’Or at the … Read more

Christopher Walken surveys his kingdom in King of New York

King of New York

      I used to work at a magazine and would get a lot of DVDs in for review purposes. King of New York was the one that really got all my co-workers misty eyed. They started quoting lines from the script, remembering the best bit of the film, asking me if I could … Read more

Simone Signoret and Vera Clouzot in Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques

      If you’re working yourself towards film-buffery, you really need to have seen something by master of suspense Henri-Georges Clouzot – “the French Hitchcock” he is often called, when Jacques Deray or Claude Chabrol aren’t using the sobriquet. You may already have seen the masterful The Wages of Fear, Clouzot’s 1953 tale of … Read more

Christine Tremarco and Stuart Sinclair Blyth

Hold Back The Night

    One of the occasional forays behind the camera of Phil Davis, the hugely gifted actor whose face pops up in everything from a Dickens adaptation to a geezer gangster flick. Which is particularly of interest in this film because it’s neither of those. In fact it’s a genre Brits have a fairly low … Read more

Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

    Based on the breakthrough novel by former spy John Le Carré, shot in black and white to suggest that espionage is unglamorous, dirty work and starring a hollowed out Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is as far from James Bond as it’s possible to get – further, even … Read more

Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel

The Blue Angel

    This is the film that made Marlene Dietrich a household scandal back in 1930. It’s the story of how a pompous but respectable schoolteacher is lured on to the rocks by Lola-Lola, the nightclub singer in a Weimar-era club who can’t help “Falling in Love Again” (which Dietrich sings here). Poor Emil Jannings, … Read more

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