Suspiria

Jessica Harper as Suzy

Suspiria, the original 1977 one not the 2018 remake (a treat for another day), pulls a version of the same trick on its audience that Orson Welles pulled on his crew while making Citizen Kane. “It’s a dream sequence,” Welles would sometimes shout, when he ran into resistance against whatever novelty he was trying out on any given day. Park your timeserved-craftsman’s logical objections, in other words, and give it a try. Armed with a “dream sequence” Welles could experiment away to his heart’s content. If Welles had a dream, Dario Argento has a nightmare to deliver and everything in his film is shaped by it. Park expectations about “good” acting and “professional” … Read more

The Reckless Moment

James Mason and Joan Bennett

Melodrama lush and silk-wrapped in The Reckless Moment, a typically opulent film from Max Ophüls, billed almost inevitably as Max Opuls in the four films he made in the USA, of which this was the last. He’s best known for Lola Montes and La Ronde, and for a strange fascination with female characters whose name began with the letter L (it was Léocadie, played by Simone Signoret, in La Ronde, no prizes for guessing who it was in Lola Montes). Lucia is his L of a gal in The Reckless Moment, Joan Bennett showing what an all-rounder she was in a role that’s several rungs up the social ladder and a moral universe … Read more

Scarlet Street

Kitty and Chris

There’s a “strike while the iron is hot” aspect to 1945’s Scarlet Street, a quick follow-up to 1944’s The Woman in the Window which reunited the three key cast members – Joan Bennett, Edward G Robinson and Dan Duryea – with director Fritz Lang and the ace cinematographer Milton Krasner. That was noir and so is this, a remake of Jean Renoir’s 1931 film La Chienne (literally, The Bitch). Renoir didn’t like Lang’s remake and nor, later on, would he like Human Desire, Lang’s remake of his La Bête Humaine. Edward G Robinson was also in the Renoir camp. He didn’t like working on Scarlet Steet much, considering it too similar to The Woman … Read more

The Woman in the Window

Alice and the professor meet

Not to be confused with the 2021 movie of the same name, 1944’s The Woman in the Window is the second of three film noirs Fritz Lang made with Joan Bennett and the first of two he’d make with Edward G Robinson. It’s a queer beast – noir with a plot trick picked up from The Wizard of Oz, a trick used so brilliantly it rescues what looks like a film that’s gone weirdly off the rails. Robinson plays the tweedy psychology professor called Richard, Dick to his friends – Sigmund Freud bubbles around beneath the surface of this plot and that name is no accident – who, while admiring a portrait of a … Read more