When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead

Chie as a dead Juliet

Japanese screwball meets cute self-help in When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead, a film announcing what it’s about in its title. Every night, when salaryman Jun (Ken Yasuda) gets home from work, he finds his wife dead on the floor – killed by a knife, a bullet, an arrow, a stake through the heart. Chie (Nana Eikura) isn’t really dead, she’s pretending, and she absolutely expects her husband to play along and put on a fully convincing performance of finding her and falling to bits emotionally before he reaches for the phone to call the emergency services, at which point she will squeak open an eye, jump up, … Read more

The Last Man on Earth

Dr Robert fights the zombies

Four years before George Romero is supposed to have revived the genre, the zombies are already alive and kicking (well, shuffling) in 1964 in The Last Man on Earth, a lurid yet oddly static example of a genre movie with all the signs of something knocked out with little respect for its audience. Unsurprisingly it got little respect back in return. It does have a few things in its favour, though. Vincent Price as the titular last human, and a story by Richard Matheson which would be repurposed a number of times, most famously as The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, and I Am Legend, with Will Smith. There’s a legend surrounding the … Read more

Laura

Laura with Shelby Carpenter

A complex psychological thriller masquerading as a film noir, 1944’s Laura is about three men who are bewitched by a woman so ethereally, transcendentally beguiling that it is entirely appropriate that, when director Otto Preminger takes the curtain up, Laura (Gene Tierney) is already dead. What follows is a basic whodunit pulled in various unusual directions. A for-instance: the cop on the case, Detective McPherson (Dana Andrews), invites one of the men suspected of killing her, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), to accompany him while he cross-examines other witnesses. What cop does that? Another: the cop doesn’t do very much actual investigating and instead spends an inordinate amount of time in the dead woman’s … Read more

While the City Sleeps

Dana Andrews, Sally Forrest, Thomas Mitchell and Ida Lupino sitting at a bar

While the City Sleeps is one of the great noir titles. Which is not the same as saying it’s one of the great noir movies. In fact it’s barely noir at all. Though it does start off looking like it might be. A lurid murder before the opening credits, then titles that come blaring at us in gigantic white letters, while Herschel Burke Gilbert’s title music of clarion brass and shrill strings suggests a great noirish feast is about to be served up. The director’s name – Fritz Lang – also promises the same. He’d done Scarlet Street and The Big Heat, after all, noir lodestones. There’s been a murder and the murderer … Read more

Theatre of Blood

Vincent Price and Diana Rigg in Theatre of Blood

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     21 May   Sam Jaffe born, 1901 On this day in 1901, one of the great characters of Hollywood was born, in Harlem, New York. Sam Jaffe, not to be confused with the actor of the same name, dropped out of high school and, thanks to his brother-in-law being a producer, got a job as an office boy at Paramount. He rose quickly and by 22 was production manager on films directed by such luminaries as Lubitsch, Von Sternberg and Mamoulian. Having dated Clara Bow and saved Paramount studios financially by inventing the “night for day” system of … Read more

Witchfinder General

Vincent Price

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     30 January     Oliver Cromwell executed two years after death, 1661 On this day in 1661, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously executed. A member of parliament who had entered the civil war against the king, Cromwell had risen quickly to become on of the best generals on the side of the “roundheads”. In 1649, Cromwell was one of the signatories of the death warrant of King Charles I. In 1653, having led campaigns against the Irish and Scots, he abolished a quarrelsome parliament and became de facto monarch of the country. When he died five years later, in … Read more

The Raven

Artwork for the original poster of The Raven

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     23 November     Boris Karloff born, 1887 On this day in 1887, the great horror actor Boris Karloff was born. Disappointingly, his birth name was William Henry Pratt and he wasn’t born in some Carpathian cave but in the inner suburb of Lewisham, South London. A well educated young man with a lisp and a stutter, he dropped out while training to become a functionary of the British Empire and instead took to farm labouring before becoming an actor. He took the name Boris Karloff while in travelling repertory theatre in Canada, and after arriving in Hollywood … Read more