Saturday, December 29, 2007


Below are my favorite films which I saw and reviewed on my blog for the first time this year, in alphabetical order:

ALL NIGHT LONG (1962): OTHELLO retooled for jazz musicians in swinging London. I like Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, but he's at his best here as the Iago character. (reviewed 11/07)

BY WHOSE HAND? (1932): Minor but fun thriller involving murder on a train. Fast paced, and an opportunity to see Dwight Frye play something other than a neurotic toady. (2/07)

A CANTERBURY TALE (1944): An eccentric and fairly minor work in the Powell & Pressburger canon, but nevertheless charming; during WWII, three folks are thrown together by chance and wind up making a pilgrimage of sorts to Canterbury, just like Chaucer's pilgrims. (1/07)

THE END OF THE AFFAIR (1955): Graham Greene's religious melodrama, and a better movie than the 90's version; Van Johnson can't touch Ralph Finnes, but he's not bad, and this might be Deborah Kerr's finest moment. (5/07)

HOUSE BY THE RIVER (1950): A Fritz Lang gothic B-thriller with Louis Hayward as a killer with a guilty conscience; low budget, but atmospheric as hell. (3/07)

The I LOVE A MYSTERY series (1945-46): Three very fun B-mysteries, all with some supernatural flavor, based on a popular radio show of the day. THE UNKNOWN is the best, but the others are certainly worth seeing. (12/07)

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1936): Others may love the Daniel Day-Lewis version, but give me this one which is shorter and less self-important, and has two hunky men to ogle: Randolph Scott and Bruce Cabot. (5/07)

THE STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1946): Low-budget horror film about a ghostly killer who haunts a small swamp community. Like HOUSE BY THE RIVER, it gets by on style, rather grim with an intentionally murky look.

T-MEN (1947): Rough and tough film noir from Anthony Mann about two treasury agents who track down some counterfeiters. Good acting, good cinematography, and one of the great noir death scenes, in a steambath. (1/07)

TURNABOUT (1940): Comic fantasy about a husband and wife who mystically switch bodies; this gimmick has become old hat, but this was the first treatment of it I'm aware of, and though it's not terribly deep, it's fun and has a great supporting cast. (1/07)

I had a much harder time than usual narrowing my list down to 10, so it's folly to try and give a short list of runners-up, except to mention the harrowing war film NONE SHALL ESCAPE (3/07) and my rediscovery of one of Edward G. Robinson's greatest performances in ALL MY SONS (6/07). I'm really thankful to Turner Classic Movies for digging into the vaults of Columbia Pictures all year long; their library is wonderful, but many of the Columbia movies have not been seen in many years, and I loved being able to see them--three of my top 10 are Columbia films seen on TCM, and several more just missed my list.

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