Thursday, 25 May 2017

THE INTERRUPTED JOURNEY (1949) Directed by Daniel Birt. B/W.


I was, until a few days ago, unfamiliar with the work of director Daniel Birt, except for the interesting THREE WEIRD SISTERS.  If this neat little thriller is anything to go by his others films may be worth investigation. To give away any plot points would be unfair as the script, written by Michael Pertwee, twists this way and that like a snake. The film has a dreamlike quality (or should I say nightmare) which is enhanced by the dramatic photography of  Erwin Hillier (whose career began with Murnau and Lang and ended with Harryhausen.) The words "Film Noir" are used far too o.ften these days but this seems to me to be a rare example of a genuine British film noir. The cast are more than competent with Richard Todd and Valerie Hobson in the lead and excellent support from Tom Walls as the dogged  Railway detective and a nice cameo by Dora Bryan as a slatternly waitress. Rating ***

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

KAIDAN SEMUSHI OTOKO (1965) Directed by Hijaime Sato.


The Japanese certainly have a flair for horror movies. This film has more in common with William Castle's THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL than it does with the somewhat over praised JUON : THE GRUDGE.  The film may not have an enjoyable performance by Vincent Price but it certainly delivers on horror. A group of people find themselves unable to leave a creepy old mansion which is complete with a sinister hunchback caretaker. As cliché demands the hapless characters are picked of with one by one. The film has several different titles and the copy viewed on You Tube is the Italian print (although listed as HOUSE OF TERRORS). The Japanese cast are dubbed into Italian but there are English sub-titles. Alternative Titles : THE GHOST OF THE HUNCHBACK.
Rating ***

Monday, 22 May 2017

BACK IN BUSINESS AT LAST!


Back in November I announced that I would be returning to film reviews in the New Year. Due to various circumstances, both personal and technical, this never happened. The world turns and it is now possible to reopen the Fleapit, While there will be a wider range of posts such as the promised return to reviews (of a sort), broader comments on the film world in general etc. I will, on occasions. continue to list films in my DVD collection. As before, comments are both encouraged and welcome.

Monday, 7 November 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 25

F. W. Murnau

Before making a career in cinema, Wilhem Fredrich Murnau had been a pilot during the Great War. He is regarded today as one of the greatest exponents of German expressionism and later films fall into a category that is best described as poetic realism. Thankfully his best films are still available. He is one of my favourite directors of the silent era. He was played (not very accurately) by John Malkovich in the film SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. Films in my collection are: DIE GANG IN DIE NACHT (1921) SCHLOSS VOGELOD (1921) NOSFERATU (1922) PHANTOM (1922) FINANCES OF THE GRAND DUKE (1924) THE LAST LAUGH (1924) TARTUFFE (1925) FAUST (1926) SUNRISE (1927) CITY GIRL (1930) TABU (1931)

Saturday, 1 October 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 24




The best American television drama is of a very high quality indeed. One only has to think of shows like THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, THE BADGE etc. For me the work of one man, a writer, creator and producer, really stands out. His most famous achievement was THE WIRE. I had to be bullied into watching it by a friend and was hooked from episode one. David Simon is a man with a social conscience, liberal, dedicated. I can say little else but recommend all his work. Simon pulls no punches and his shows are not always easy watching. In my collection: HOMICIDE : LIFE ON THE STREETS (1993-1998) THE CORNER (2000) THE WIRE (2002-2008) GENERATION KILL (2008) TREME (2010-2013) SHOW ME A HERO (2015)

Michael Williams and Wendell Pierce in THE WIRE

Friday, 26 August 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 23

Fritz Lang 1890-1976
One of the greats. Austrian born, Lang, was one of the most important directors of the silent era who adapted very successfully to sound. His films, even the minor, ones remain very watchable. The first Lang film I saw was MOONFLEET and remember vividly the power of the opening scenes.
Films in my collection: DIE SPINNEN (1919/1920 two parts) DESTINY (1921) DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922 two parts) DIE NIBELUNGEN (1924 two parts) METROPOLIS (1927) SPIONE (1928) FRAU IM MOND (1929) M (1931) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE(1933) YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE 1937) MANHUNT (1941) HANGMEN ALSO DIE (1943) MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944) WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944) SCARLET STREET(1945) HOUSE BY THE RIVER (1950) CLASH BY NIGHT (1952) THE BLUE GARDENIA (1953) THE BIG HEAT (1953) HUMAN DESIRE (1954) DAS TIGER VON ESCHNAPAUR (1959) DAS INDISCHE GRABMAL(1959) DIE 1000 AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE (1960)

Thursday, 25 August 2016

MY DVD COLLECTION 22


The origins of the German "Krimi" crime dramas go back to Fritz Lang's DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) which itself owes a debt to the earlier French serials of Louis Feuillade such as FANTOMAS (1914). Lang followed the success of the first Mabuse film ten years later then revived the character in 1960 after his return to Germany - it was this film, DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE and DER FROSCH MIT DER MASKE made a year earlier that really kicked off the "Krimi" as a distinct sub-genre.


Dr. Mabuse remained a popular character, personified in person or in absentia by the excellent Wolfgang Preiss, despite the first of the non-Lang films (a remake of his 1933 DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE) being quite terrible. The Krimis also drew heavily on the works of Edgar Wallace and his son, Bryan Edgar Wallace. Regular directors included Harald Reinl, Alfred Vohrer and Franz Gottlieb while regular cast members were Karin Dor (Mrs.Reinl), Gert Frobe, Peter van Eyck, Joachim Fuchsberger, Werner Peters and Klaus Kinski. London was a favourite setting, particularly Soho, old castles haunted by phantom archers, whip wielding monks etc although genuine supernatural denouements were rare - the main threat usually coming from a masked, hooded or otherwise concealed villain.


I don't think anybody would claim that the krimis of the 1960's produced any masterpieces but they can be entertaining - a bit dull at times, maybe. There were a few c0-productions such as CIRCUS OF FEAR and TRAITOR'S GATE but the krimi remains a very Teutonic sub-genre. The inspirational Dr. Mabuse went of to inspire Claude Chabrol's DR. M (1990) and there has been a recent American remake, so far unseen in the UK. Evidence of the popularity of the character is witnessed by the fact that Gordon Hessler's unrelated SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN was released in Germany as DIE LEBENDEN LEICHEN DES DR.MABUSE. The 1937 film listed below managed to invoke both Edgar Wallace and Dr.Mabuse, not to mention Conan Doyle while, seemingly being unrelated to any. Films in my collection are:
DR.MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE (1933) DER MAN DER SHERLOCK HOLMES WAS (1937) DER FROSCH MIT DER MASKE (1959) DIE TAUSEND AUGEN DES DR.MABUSE (1960) DER FALSCHER VON LONDON (1961) DIE   IM STAHLNETZ DES DR.MABUSE (1961) DAS TESTAMENT DES DR.MABUSE (1962) UNSICHTBAREN KRALLEN DES DR. MABUSE (1962) SHERLOCK HOLMES UND DAS HALSBAND DES TODES (1962) DER HENKER VON LONDON (1963) DER GEHEIMNIS DER SCHWARZEN WITWE (1963) DIE WEISSE SPINNE (1963) DIE TODESSTRAHLEN DES DR.MABUSE (1964) DER UNHEIMLICHE MONCH (1965)