(dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1984) When 16 year-old Eva from Hungary invades the domain of her New York cousin Willie and his friend Eddie, she is at first an irritation, but later a source of color in their lives. A year later, after rescuing Eva from a midwestern winter and her eccentric Aunt Lotte, the quirky cabal head south for an existential vacation in a paradise called Florida. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival Camera d'Or, Stranger Than Paradise marks the directorial debut of Jim Jarmusch
(Dir. Bob Rafelson, 1972) A comic nightmare set, appropriately, in the glitzy wasteland of Atlantic City, the film was far too offbeat for the American public, mixing drama, comedy and violence
(dir. Billy Wilder, 1950) Wilder co-wrote and directed this masterpiece about an aging, has-been silent screen movie star who, in her psychotic self-indulgence, believes that she can make a "return" to the big screen with the help of an unsuccessful writer (William Holden). Holden is fabulous as the cynical, downtrodden nobody whose motivation never exceeds cash or desperation, and former silent screen star Gloria Swanson is fabulous as Norma Desmond, also driven by desperation. Sunset Boulevard received numerous Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, including best actor/actress, writing, direction, cinematography, editing, and others. You'll recognize some famous quotes from this film, including Desmond's explanation for her demise ("I am big. It's the pictures that got small."). Eric Von Stroheim plays Max, the mysterious butler who nicely complements the eerie tone of this brilliant cinematic masterpiece. 110 mins.
(dir. Robert Siodmak, 1943) An unjustly overlooked film noir, Phantom Lady is a perverse yarn about a secretary (Ella Raines) trying to clear the boss she loves (Alan Curtis) of a murder he didn't commit. Franchot Tone, who spends half the movie staring in horror at his perfect-for-strangling hands, is wonderfully over-the-top as the villain, and veteran character actor Elisha Cook Jr. excels as a drummer whom Raines needs to pump for information. In this brilliantly sick bit, Cook pounds his sticks inches from his crotch in response to Raines' seductions. Based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window) and produced by long-time Hitchcock assistant (and wife of Eric Ambler) Joan Harrison, Phantom Lady stars Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, Alan Curtis and Thomas Gomez. Cinematography by Woody Bredell. 87 mins.
(dir. Charles Vidor, 1946) Ford and Hayworth in a love/hate classic with lots of fireworks! Ford portrays Johnny Farrell, right hand man to Ballin Mundson, a shrewd proprietor of an illegal gambling casino in South America. Trouble starts when Ballin marries Gilda, a woman from Johnny's past. Gilda, who is still in love with Johnny, does everything to spark Johnny's jealousy, but Johnny who is definitely a wise guy gets even! Great casting and chemistry between Ford and Hayworth. One of the best classic entrances an actress has ever made and a critically acclaimed performance by Ford. 110 mins.
(dir. Robert Siodmak, 1946) Loosely based on the Ernest Hemingway short story, this essentially dark and poignant film noir classic is a tale of cross and double cross, involving a has-been fighter, a gangster's ex-girl, and some trigger-happy assassins. Notable as Burt Lancaster's film debut, The Killers also features a particularly sultry performance by Ava Gardner, and Miklos Rozsa's dynamic score with the familiar "dum-da-dum-dum" theme later made popular by the TV show "Dragnet." German emigre, and Noir Master, Siodmak received his only Oscar nomination for this one. 105 mins.
(dir. Raoul Walsh, 1949) A classic of the noir/gangster genre. Cody Jarrett (James Cagney), a neurotic, mother-obsessed psychopath, is the leader of a gang. Hunted down after a big heist, he lets himself get sent behind bars for a misdemeanor. He escapes with Fallon, an undercover police officer out to dismantle Cody's gang. They plan a new heist. But the police surround the gas factory in which Cody has run for cover and where his life will come to its apocalyptic end. A veritable modern tragedy, this studio gem made Walsh one of the greatest dramatists of his time. 114 mins.
(dir. George Cukor, 1944) Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for portraying Paula Alquist, the vulnerable, insecure heroine of George Cukor's diabolical, atmospheric thriller. Beautifully filmed in a gloomy, atmospheric black-and-white, Gaslight exhibits all the classic visual elements of '40s film noir. Gaslight also features a strong supporting cast with Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and Angela Lansbury in her film debut. 114 mins.
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