WC Fields and Mae West

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Paris, dawn, August, in the long hot summer of 1976

C’était un Rendezvous

      The story goes that after wrapping on a film starring Catherine Deneuve, having come in under budget and with a day of shooting time left, as he often managed, director Claude Lelouch decided to do something mad and foolish, make a guerrilla short. All you need to make a movie is a … Read more

Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves, The Matrix

The Matrix

Who has not seen The Matrix? It’s the Gone with the Wind and Star Wars of our era, a phantasmagoria in black leather open to multiple readings that was already being described as mind-bending and complex before it even debuted. From this distance it all seems as clear as water – Mr Anderson (Keanu Reeves), … Read more

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

Meet Me in St Louis

Meet Me in St Louis

    “Clang clang clang went the trolley” and ring ring ring went the tills in every box office all over America when Meet Me in St Louis arrived in 1944. Made when the war in the Pacific was at its height, it was a chocolate-boxy feast of nostalgia even then, a story about a … Read more

The Ladykillers

The Ladykillers

      Now that there’s a new team at Ealing Studios, using an illustrious old name to sell underweight product (St Trinian’s, Dorian Gray, Burke and Hare) it’s a good time to look back at 1955’s The Ladykillers, the last classic of the studio’s golden era. Its director, Alexander Mackendrick, also called the shots … Read more

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in McCabe & Mrs Miller

McCabe And Mrs Miller

    As Ang Lee now redefines every genre he touches, so did Robert Altman three and more decades ago. Here’s his remodelling of the western, an “anti-western” according to him, though these days what Altman was doing decades ago has mostly been incorporated in the mainstream – the “anti-western” is now just a western. Warren … Read more

Poor Photoshop skills add a little extra to the lie-detector scene from Meet the Parents

Meet The Parents

    The notion of “upstaging” someone comes from the theatre. If you as an actor walk upstage, away from the auditorium, you force the person you’re addressing to turn their back on the audience. The audience can’t see the actor’s face, it can’t hear him/her that well either. It drives actors crazy. It’s a … Read more

Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

      Fifty years after the making of this quintessentially British comic classic it was remade starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Judi Dench and the then almost incandescently hot Reese Witherspoon, to give it a bit of global appeal. That’s a great cast – three Oscar-winners and a scene-stealer par excellence (see Everett in My … 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

Kiss Me Deadly

Kiss Me Deadly

Critics continue to argue over whether this is the best film noir ever made but all seem united on one point – Kiss Me Deadly is the best adaptation of one of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels. Now 50 years old, the film opens with a scene that still packs a punch – cynical private … Read more

Sean Bean and Alex Kingston in Essex Boys

Essex Boys

    Though not a perfect film by any means, this story about violent pill-dealing mafia wannabes has bags of flavour. It’s based on the Rettendon Range Rover murders, which saw two drug barons and their driver murdered in a car in the back of beyond, in December 1995. Four films have been made (as … Read more

How the Texas Theatre advertised Dark Side of the Rainbow

Dark Side of the Rainbow

    Ten kids high on aspartame and orange food colouring were finally silenced at my house a few weeks ago when I put on the so-sharp-it-hurts remastered Wizard Of Oz. The 1939 classic’s SFX were still brilliant and Judy Garland’s performance is so thigh-slapping that it had a magical effect on adults too. Oddly, … Read more

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