Tag Archive: Noir


On Sunday night (1st March 2015), watched the 1962 French New Wave flick Le Combat dans L’île. One of the best among, film française (French Films).

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider in a scene from Le Combat dans L'île (1962)

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider in a scene from Le Combat dans L’île (1962)

This masterpiece of the Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave), directed by Alain Cavalier, deals with a husband and a wife, a political assassination attempt, tested friendships and infidelity. It’s a brilliant movie starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider, as husband and wife; and Henri Serre, as a close friend, kind confidant and ultimate lover.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, plays a foolish man, conned into a rebellious group, and, though not necessarily an abusive husband, definitely a bully of a husband, and a very possessive and untrusting husband, with a major inferiority complex. Yet he isn’t as sceptical, in fact happens to be pretty gullible, when it comes to outside negative influences, that doesn’t concern his marriage. He resides in Paris, France, with his beautiful wife.

One day Clément (Jean-Louis Trintignant), gets involved in a political assassination attempt, which happens to be the brainchild of Serge (Pierre Asso), his superior, among the underground rebels; unaware to Clément’s wife, Anna (Romy Schneider). It is Clément who pulls the trigger, under the guidance of Serge, during attempt to kill a famous French politician. Soon Clément is forced to abscond, along with Anna, to his childhood friend, Paul’s (Henri Serre) home, a safe haven, in the countryside. Here Clément learns, that it’s actually Serge who betrayed him. Thus he vows to take his revenge, for his own folly, in trusting Serge with his life. Paul, being a modern day democrat, and an advocate of non-violence, is horrified by Clément’s involvement in the failed assassination attempt, and throws him out of his house. Yet for Clément, with nothing but vengeance in his mind, takes no heed to Paul’s contempt towards him, and leaves for South America, in search of Serge, leaving Anna behind.

Anna is devastated, and falls into a grave depression, but Paul, along with the help of Cécile (Diana Lepvrier), Paul’s housemaid, pulls her out of it. Soon news of Clément being a wanted man, for the murder of Serge, reaches France. With no news from Clément, Paul and Anna fall into each others arms. But soon Clément returns, and now devoured by jealousy, after he learned of his wife’s infidelity, keeps challenging Paul to a dual. Sensible Paul keeps refusing. But the immature Clément wouldn’t let the couple, that is now expecting a child together, be, and wouldn’t stop harassing them until Paul agrees to a fair fight. It’s a matter of honour for, the archaic mentality of the male chauvinistic, Clément. While Paul and Anna, are more open minded, practical, and nice couple, who seem perfect for each other. But thanks to the brashness, of Clément, the story is headed for an, uncalled for, shootout, with tragic consequences.

BEHIND THE SCENES: The cast of Le Combat dans L'île, having fun on the sets.

BEHIND THE SCENES: The cast of Le Combat dans L’île, having fun on the sets.

Character Analysis  
Clément is a failure in life, which gives rise to his unkind ways, violent mentality, inferiority complex and insecurity. He is an extremist fool. He beats his wife, yet he truly loves her. Loves her to the brink of suffocation. His physical appearance adds to his characterization. He is a good looking bloke, yet not well rewarded in height, and not as handsome as his close friend Paul. It’s an interesting contrast between the two friends. Paul is tall, handsome, kind, sensible and practical. A perfect gentleman. While Clément is brash, unsympathetic, immature, moody, rough and unsophisticated in mannerism. Anna is a former actress, who’s left the stage, after getting married. She seems to have an existentialist personality. Clément is very possessive of her, he feels he own her. Anna rebels against his domineering behaviour, and is constantly horrified of his violent tendencies, yet she almost always ultimately gives in, letting him have his way. She revolts against his brutishness, but yet, at the same time, is submissive. She loves and fears him and seems tired of fighting, yet she doesn’t accept his negative attitude towards life. In fact, once she tells him, that he is ‘‘killing her’’. She means metaphorically, as well as his physical bullying towards her. The way he strangles her neck with lust, as he kisses her. He treats her as his property, property he loves to death. But what’s more ironic here is, as she tells him, he’s ‘‘killing her’’, metaphorically, he is actually ready to kill the traitor, Serge, the man who betrayed him. Three really intriguing character sketches here. Anna’s love for Clément, shows her love for a passionate romance, at the edge of being deadly. Yet, when she finally falls for Paul, it’s more of a settle-down kind of love affair. Relaxed, along with a kinder and gentler man, a complete contrast to her ruthless, obsessive, husband. With Paul she’s ready to start a family, and live happily. That is until, Clément comes back and gets ready to ruin her stress free life.

Symbolism of the Landscape: The Secluded Isle  
The countryside where Paul lives is beautiful. Especially Paul’s little Isle, with his Tudor style house atop; with the dark timber frameworks, and white plaster; along with a river flowing below. It’s picture perfect. A happy private and scenic retreat, away from habitation. Perfect for a couple in love, a relaxed lifestyle, and great for bringing up a family. It’s such a romantically  beautiful landscape. A place which landscape artists would love to paint, poets would love to write about, and writers would love to use to muse about their next venture. Yet, the place can also be symbolic, of isolation, loneliness and insecurity. Ultimately this beautiful location is where all the drama unfolds. The climax. The final combat in the isle, takes place, as the title suggests. This is where the fire and ice (as the English title of the movie, Fire and Ice, suggests) face each other. While the fire tries to melt the ice, the ice tries to extinguish the fire. One through foolish provocation, the other forced against his will.

A marvellous movie by Alain Cavalier, with a superb cast. Romy Schneider happens to be one of my favourite actresses, from European cinema. Schneider is of Austrian birth, but she’s acted in French, Italian, German and English language movies. Le Combat dans L’île happens to be her first venture into the Nouvelle Vague. French actor, Henri Serre, happens to be the star, of my all time favourite French flick, director François Truffaut’s New Wave classic, Jules et Jim (1962), which happens to be part my all time favourite, Top-10 Films (see my list of critiques titled Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB).

Le Combat dans L’île, is a blend of Art Cinema meets a thriller, combined with a love story, a tragedy, and more than a pinch of the element of noir. The film itself, like the character of Anna, embodies an existentialist undercurrent. A beautiful directorial debut feature by Alain Cavalier

Le Combat dans L’île (1962). Pure Excellence!!!!! 10/10!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

On the 26th of November, 2014, watched all five episodes of the TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011). One of the DVD’s I brought from Australia.
Mildred Pierce - The PosterBack in 2012, whilst visiting Delhi, I got to watch the classic noir flick, Mildred Pierce (1945), based on a 1941 novel by James M. Cain, on TCM. I instantly fell in love with this excellent adaptation, and felt it was one of the best movies ever made. Directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Joan Crawford, as the titular character, the 1945 adaptation had deviated from the original plot, and the turned the story into a crime drama, yet keeping intact the mother/daughter relationship explored in the book. I haven’t read the novel yet, but since watching the 2011 mini-series, assumingly being more of an accurate adaptation, that’s what I gathered. Last month I located the 2011 mini-series DVD in Sydney, among the many I ended up buying there (see my post related to my  ). And this modern adaptation directed by Todd Haynes, and starring, my favourite actress of the 21st century, so far, Kate Winslet, in the lead role, was totally worth it. Another excellent adaptation, and one of the rare great re-makes of a classic. Love both the classic, and the modern. Both Crawford and Winslet, are perfect in their roles of the ever suffering mother, trying her best to please her ungrateful daughter.

Left: Kate Winslet (2011) Right: Joan Crawford (1945)

Left: Kate Winslet (2011)                       Right: Joan Crawford (1945)

The 1945 Classic Cinematic Venture
In the classic noir flick, the movie starts off with a crime, with the death of Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), second husband of Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford). The police then question Mildred Pierce, assuming her first husband, Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett), shot Beragon out of jealousy. Mildred Pierce then takes the blame, and recounts her life story in flashback.

The 2011 Television Adaptation
In the newer adaptation, no noirish crime takes place. Nobody gets killed. No flashbacks. Straight forward drama set in the depression era of 1930’s America.

Analysis
Besides the major plot shift, in the classic and the modern, one of the common factors, in both the Mildred Pierce’s, is the psychological character study of Mildred Pierce and her daughter Veda.

The mother, though a woman with her flaws (which is what makes her human), is the perfect mother. Kind, caring, sacrificing her own happiness for the sake of her children, and putting them first. The elder daughter, Veda, is an ungrateful, nasty character, though the degree of their cruelty towards the mother varies between Veda (Ann Blyth) of the 1945 version, and Veda (Morgan Turner & Evan Rachel Wood) of the 2011 version. In the classic version, we don’t see issues such as incest and infidelity, through the daughter and her playboy step-father, Monte/Monty Beragon (Zachary Scott in 1945 and Guy Pearce in 2011), mainly due to the censorship laws that existed in the hey days of Hollywood. While Veda from the classic noir piece kills off her step-father, and lets her mother take the blame; in the newer version, Veda, not only sleeps with her step-father, making that an alliance of incest, as well as infidelity, she antagonises her mother, flaunting her sexual relationship with Beragon. As Veda (Evan Rachel Wood) slithers naked, like a venomous snake, from the lust stained bed, towards the mirror, taunting her horrified mother (Winslet), one feels nothing but disgust towards this animalistic character (not the actress). So the amount of hatred you feel for the ‘Veda’ character in the two versions vary. The new ‘Veda’ makes the 1945 ‘Veda’, look like a saint. But yet that doesn’t mean you can like the ‘Veda’ of the classic film. You’d still dislike her, but feel more disgusted towards the ‘Veda’ of 2011.

Left: Morgan Turner as the younger Veda in the 2011 mini-series.  Top-Right: Evan Rachel Wood as the older Veda in the 2011 mini-series. Bottom-Right: Ann Blyth as Veda in the 1945 film-noir.

Left: Morgan Turner as the younger Veda in the 2011 mini-series.
Top-Right: Evan Rachel Wood as the older Veda in the 2011 mini-series.
Bottom-Right: Ann Blyth as Veda in the 1945 film-noir.

The two ‘Mildred Pierce’ characters too differ, though not in their niceties. They are both kind hearted mothers of near perfection. Both are single mothers bringing up their children on their own, after getting rid of their cheating husbands, Bert Pierce’s (Bruce Bennett in 1945 and Brían F. O’Byrne in 2011). Both are independent strong willed women. Yet both fall for the wrong man, Beragon, adding towards the, already problematic, mother/daughter relationship. But Crawford’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ is a business tycoon and owns a chain of glamorous restaurants, while Winslet’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ is, though a business woman, not a tycoon, with only a few restaurants, most probably as stated in James M. Cain’s novel. And Crawford’s character never harms her daughter, physically or otherwise, while Winslet’s (due to the sequence prior to it), grasps her inconsiderate daughter by the neck, through provocation. As the singer Veda (Evan Rachel Wood) tries to sing, with her damaged vocal chords, besides how much disgust we feel towards her, one can’t help but feel sorry for her character. Only for a moment though. She’s a character that could never change, and finally Winslet’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ gives up on Veda. While Crawford’s still tries to protect her till the end. Mildred Pierce is a really complex feminist character, who stands on her own two feet, in a man’s world, yet finds herself trapped, by falling for the wrong man, and by being psychologically distressed by her own spoilt daughter.

Kate Winslet & Guy Pearce in scene from MILDRED PIERCE (2011)

Kate Winslet & Guy Pearce in scene from MILDRED PIERCE (2011) NSFS

Both Zachary Scott and Guy Pearce, are superb, as the playboy Monte/Monty Beragon, who seduces Mildred Pierce and further ruins her relationship with her daughter, in the film and mini-series, respectively. The way it happens differs in the two versions. Yet, along with the playboy characteristics of Beragon, the fact he uses Mildred Pierce, mainly for her money, and encourages Veda’s hatred for her mother, doesn’t.

Bert Pierce, Mildred Pierce’s first husband, though flawed, is a sympathetic character, that always stands by his ex-wife. Especially against the injustices of their narcissistic, hard hearted, daughter, towards the mother. His character truly shines bright in the final sequence.

The movie was an excellent work of cinematic art. But amazingly, so was the television remake. Love both the movie and the TV miniseries. Both Joan Crawford and Kate Winslet, garnered various accolades, at various award ceremonies, for their portrayal of ‘Mildred Pierce’, including Oscars, Globes and Emmy’s.
Mildred Pierce (1945). Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!
Mildred Pierce (2011). Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Television (DVD) Sense

Continuing the DVD films, brought from Down Under, that I watched last month. I would have worked on this sooner, but since the arrival of little darling  in our lives, all my blogging got a tad delayed.
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The Long Tensed Wait – High Noon

On Monday night, the 24th of November, 2014, watched the Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly classic directed by Fred Zinnemann, High Noon (1952).
High NoonHigh Noon, made approximately in real time, deals with a Marshal, Will Kane (Cooper), who is forced to face his arch enemy alone; a man he sent to prison, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), who has been pardoned and released, and vows to take his revenge; on Kane’s wedding day. Grace Kelly plays the nervous, newly wedded, bride, from out of town, a Quaker, who has no knowledge of the historic enmity between her husband and Frank Miller.

The movie is a mixture of Noir and Western. Majority of the film deals with the long, nerve wrecking, tensed, wait. The drama between the two men is to erupt at 12 noon, thus we sit through 85 minutes of suspense, constantly watching the clock on the screen. It’s so beautifully filmed, that we become part of plot, as we watch the tension in all the lead characters of this little town, nervous about the noon fight, as Frank Miller is suppose to arrive by the noon train. High Noon has less to do with dialogues or physical action, but more to do with psychological tension and emotions. Especially for the Marshal. We see him try and gain his townsfolk to help him fight off Miller and his gang of three (which include Miller’s brother and two others, who wait patiently, for Miller’s arrival, at the train station), to no avail. We see Kane’s desperation and fear, hidden under his hard exterior. Even Will Kane’s closest friends, people at the towns bar, the church, everyone refuses to help. They might support Kane, but they fear Miller more.

The film won four Academy Awards and four Golden Globes, including for ‘Best Actor’ (Oscar & Golden Globe for Cooper), ‘Best Supporting Actress’ (Golden Globe for Mexican actress Katy Jurado, for her performance as Helen Ramírez, Kane’s and Miller’s ex lover, making Jurado the first Mexican actress to receive the award), and Best Cinematography – B/W (Golden Globe for Floyd Crosby). And High Noon was nominated in many other categories, in various Award Ceremonies, including Oscar nominations for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Picture’, and ‘Best Screenplay’. In the late 80’s High Noon was selected by the United States National Film Registry (NFR), as being “culturally, historically & aesthetically significant”, entering the registry during the NFR’s first year of existence.

Among the finest Westerns ever, and definitely the best blend of Western & Film Noir. A Commercial, yet Art House, movie, long before Art House Films came into existence. I have known about this movie since the mid-80’s, the long wait was worth it. Excellent 10/10!!!!!

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A Man going Homicidal – The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

On Tuesday, 25th, watched the weirdly excellent Horror flick by Stanley Kubrick, with Jack Nicholson as the homicidal maniac, The Shining (1980).

The ‘Overlook Hotel’ is closing for the winter, and a caretaker Jack (Jack Nicholson), an aspiring writer, along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and six year old son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), head to take care of the Hotel for a frozen holiday. Whilst residing there, apparently due to a supernatural event, or a purely psychological one, Jack starts to go insane and tries to kill his wife and child.

An amazingly horrific feature film, set in the fictional, isolated, ‘Overlook Hotel’, in a scenic, yet foreboding, location. The whole mise-en-scène; with spacious interiors, which ironically adds a sense of claustrophobia and entrapment, the contrast of the classic building with the modern furnishing, the way the steadicam follows little Danny’s tricycle within the long endless corridors; is brilliant. The atmosphere created at the hotel and it’s surroundings, with It’s breathtaking scenery, has something very eerie about it. The movie is so deeply engaging, that the audience, would want to both leave, yet be stuck to chair, hoping to get the on-screen mother and child to safety.

Jack Nicholson is brilliant as always, naturally looking evil, with raised eyebrows. Shelley Duvall, seems realistically frightened, through the claustrophobic entrapment she feels, both by her husband and the snowbound, yet spacious, location. The little kid, is superb, especially in his ‘shining’ moments. Specifically the ‘Redrum’ scene (an anagram for ‘Murder’), which gets the sickly looking mother agitated even more, and tries to save her child, if not herself. While shooting the film, little Danny Lloyd, wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be a horror film. Yet Lloyd is pure perfection, when it comes to frightening scenes. The maze scene, interchanging the feel of loss and hope, through illumination, and gloom, towards the end, between the father and son, is splendidly depicted, representing a scope for triumph of good over evil.

Jack Nicholson’s evil male persona is also subject to, racial hatred, sexism and an egoistical, narrow minded, sense of masculinity. The movie has a bizarrely frozen ending, with the 1920’s photograph, making us question the representation of the ‘Jack’ character, as an animalistic human, or unsettling spirit, or a reincarnation. Jack is the embodiment of male chauvinism and pure evil, to come out at the height of feminism of the 70’s. He can’t stand his wife, which only surfaces after being trapped in the ‘Overlook Hotel’, through his own imagination or actual past ghosts.

This DVD, also contained the short documentary, Making ‘The Shining’ (1980), directed by Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick’s daughter. A very enjoyable, behind the scene, insight into the making of a classic.

No doubt, The Shining, is the best horror movie, after Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Simplistic, and almost static, in movement, with a horrifying atmosphere, the movie is a masterpiece of psychological horror, thanks to the genius that Kubrick was. Excellent 10/10!!!!! 

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In Love with an Edwardian Lady – Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Friday, the 28th, watched the period piece, Somewhere in Time (1980). A science-fiction romance, where a man travels through time, by transporting his body and soul, psychologically, through hypnosis, to be with the love of his life.

Ever heard of a science-fiction movie, specifically dealing with time-travel, that had no use of special effects, to showcase thus. Well now you have. In this heritage, sci-fi, classic, Somewhere in Time, a playwright, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve), uses the method of self-hypnosis, by disengaging himself with anything related to the 1970’s, to travel through time, into the Year 1912, after seeing a framed photograph of a famed stage actress of the Edwardian era, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). This takes place, eight years after he met an old lady (Susan French), in 1972, who hands him a pocket watch and asks him to, “Come back”, to her. Eight years later, after being infatuated with late Elise McKenna’s picture from 1912, he discovers, the old lady he met in 1972, was the one and the same the person. Since then he’s is obsessed with meeting her again, who’s dead and gone by now.

The plot sounds pretty juvenile, yet it’s filmed so romantically, believably transforming us into another era, with some great costumes, along with Collier, that one can’t not enjoy the love affair between the two era’s. This Heritage Film also stars George Voskovec, Bill Erwin, Teresa Wright and Christopher Plummer. ‘Superman’ Christopher Reeve, is well built, tall and handsome. ‘Bond’ girl, Jane Seymour is bewitchingly beautiful. Especially in the scene where she loosens her Edwardian bouffant, and gives herself to man she loves and might lose. Very moving. Very Romantic. Very Good 8/10!!!!

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The Flight to Heaven – Always

Audrey Hepburn in Steven Spielberg's 'Always' (1989)

Audrey Hepburn in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Always’ (1989)

Legendary Audrey Hepburn performs, as an angel, Hap, in a special appearance; in her last cinematic role, before retiring from cinema altogether, and lending her services completely to philanthropic work; in Always (1989). Watched it on Saturday afternoon, 29th November, 2014.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Always, tells story of a daredevil aerial forest-fire fighter, Pete (Richard Dreyfuss), who gets himself killed, and meets the angel, Hap (Hepburn), who guides his soul to help another young pilot, Ted (Brad Johnson), as well as help Pete’s devastated old girlfriend, Dorinda (Holly Hunter), get over him, and start afresh with Ted.

It’s not a great Spielberg movie, but not a bad flick either. It has some very interesting sequences. An OK venture. 6/10!!!

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The Rise of a Singing Sensation – King Creole  

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Watched this Elvis Presley classic, directed by Michael Curtiz, and based on a novel by Harold Robbins, King Creole (1958), on Sunday afternoon, the 30th of November, 2014.

This musical showcases one of the rare better performances by, the legendary King of Rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley, as an actor. The story is about a young club singer (Presley), who out of desperation, falls into bad company, and finds it difficult to get out of it. The deeper he gets, the messier and complicated things get for him, in turn risking the lives of family and friends.

Excellently filmed by Michael Curtiz, director of great classics like, Casablanca (1942) and Mildred Pierce (1945), yet as a Curtiz movie, it’s not good enough, for he was an exceptional film director. The camera mostly moves around capturing the most bewitchingly beautiful creature in the movie, with a great voice, from every angle possible. Of course I’m talking about Elvis Presley. Presley, who’s not much of an actor, does a reasonably good job here, as Danny Fisher. Walter Matthau, is pretty good, as the villain of the piece. Danny Fisher’s two love interests are quite pretty. The music is superb, the songs are pure heavenly.
Elvis Presley in King CreoleSupposedly, this was Elvis Presley’s favourite, among the films he worked in. Thanks to the music, this makes for an enjoyable viewing. Overall, a Very Good movie. 8/10!!!!     

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-I.

One of my favourite film directors, Richard Samuel Attenborough, died on Sunday 24th of August, 2014, less than a week away from his 91st Birthday. He was the older brother of Sir David Attenborough, a naturalist and broadcaster, and John Attenborough. John Attenborough died in November 2012.
Richard AttenboroughBaron Attenborough was born in the beautiful city of Cambridge, in the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom; on the 29th of August, 1923. Born into an intellectual and heroic family; his mother was a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and his father a scholar and academic administrator who was a fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law; Richard Attenborough’s parents saved two Jewish girls during the Second World War and later adopted them once they discovered the girls’ parent’s were killed off. Richard Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force (RAF), during the Second World War. Soon he joined the RAF Film Unit at Pinewood Studios, where in 1943, he worked with Edward G. Robinson in the propaganda film, Journey Together (1945). The Acting bug hit him, whilst still serving in the Air Force (where he sustained permanent ear damage), and the rest is history.

I fell in love with the biographical epic tear-jerker Gandhi (1982), when I watched it as a child in the early-mid 1980’s. And as we had the video tape of Gandhi, at home, I have watched it a zillion times since then. Plus, when I was studying for my M.A. in International Cinema (2002-2003); at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; I got a chance to study this, three hour long, great epic, scene by scene. It was for my mini-dissertation, titled Historical, Heritage and Hackneyed Cinema: British and Hollywood Cinema set in early twentieth Century India, of 10,330 words, in my second semester. Gandhi was a movie that fell under ‘Historical Cinema’, where I did an analysis of racial tension (under the chapter White Bred over Brown Bred: Colonial Relations), the significance of land, specifically the ‘Train’ in Gandhi (under the chapter Landscape and it’s significance), and a character psychoanalysis (under the chapter Gender & Sexuality). Gender & Sexuality was the most crucial chapter in my mini-dissertation, which paved the way, to do a complete psychoanalysis on gender, for my final dissertation (on Hitchcockian Cinema) of 25,000 to 30,000 words, in my final semester.

Richard Attenborough and actor Ben Kingsley at the Oscars, in 1983. With their wins for Best Picture, Best Director & Best Actor, for GANDHI (1982).

Richard Attenborough and actor Ben Kingsley at the Oscars, in 1983.
With their wins for Best Picture, Best Director & Best Actor, for GANDHI (1982).

Attenborough’s directorial epic, Gandhi, is no doubt the best film to come out of the 1980’s (see my post My Favourite movie by decade, My Favourite Oscar Winner per decade from March 2014). The movie was based on the non-violent struggle of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, India’s peace activist and modern day saint, who, during the British Raj, drove away the British colonist, by hurting their conscience, instead of acting against them through violence. Of course the movie depicts him as a perfectionist, but he was a human being, and no human being is perfect. He had his little flaws, yet he was a truly great human being. Gandhi deservedly won eight Oscars (out the eleven nominated for) in 1983, including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, among others. Gandhi won over 40 other awards in various other award functions (in various categories), including at the BAFTA’s and the Golden Globes.

Richard Attenborough’s acting career began on stage, where he met his future wife, stage actress Sheila Sim, with whom he appeared on the West End production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. This production led to the two falling in love and they were married in 1945. And they were happily married until Attenborough’s death on Sunday. Sheila Sim is currently suffering from senile dementia, which she was diagnosed with back in June 2012, just after her 90th Birthday. Richard Attenborough, who also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, remained a Patron until his death.

Richard Attenborough with Laura Dern and Sam Neill in a scene from JURASSIC PARK (1993)

Richard Attenborough with Laura Dern and Sam Neill in a scene from JURASSIC PARK (1993)

As a teenager, in New Delhi, in 1994, I watched Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), on video tape, and later on the Big Screen, within that year. I thought it was a really good Sci-fi, B-movie. And I loved the way Attenborough’s character, Prof. John Hammond, explains the process of extracting blood (Dinosaur DNA) from a mosquito that had been preserved in amber fossil. At that age, DNA extraction and cloning really impressed me, something I learned as a kid in school in the late 80’s. The rest of the film was a visually spectacular drama, loved the CGI of the time, especially the creations of pre-historic animals, but what I found the most amazing was Prof. Hammond’s detailed explanation. I wasn’t so crazy about the sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001), though. Yet I wouldn’t mind checking out the latest instalment, Jurassic World, which is yet to be released.
Richard Attenborough z Brighton Rock  (1947)Richard Attenborough starred in a lot of great movies throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, including In Which we Serve (1942), Brighton Rock (1947), The Man Within (1947), The Guinea Pig (1948), Boys in Brown (1949), Eight O’Clock Walk (1954), SOS Pacific (1959), The Angry Silence (1960), The Dock Brief (1962), The Great Escape (1963), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), Doctor Dolittle (1967) and The Magic Christian (1969) with Ringo Starr of ‘The Beatles’, to name a few out of zillion he’s starred in. Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, The Flight of the Phoenix, Doctor Dolittle, 10 Rillington Place (1971), Jurassic Park and Miracle on 34th Street (1994), are amongst his most popular films as an actor. I have a vague memory of watching The Great Escape as a little kid, but am unsure. Anyway, I re-watched it more recently and loved it too. This excellent flick, based on a true story, is about several escape attempts by allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp, during World War – II.

In the late 60’s, Richard Attenborough, made his directorial debut, with the musical, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969). His next directorial venture was Young Winston (1972).
Richard Attenborough Young WinstonIn England, in 2002-2003, I watched Attenborough’s previous biographical epic, Young Winston (1972), at the University Library. This movie deals with former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill’s, younger days, stationed in India and Sudan, as a cavalry officer. I really enjoyed it. Though no where near as great as Attenborough’s magnum opus, that was Gandhi, Young Winston was still a pretty good movie.

Besides Young Winston and Gandhi, as a director, Richard Attenborough, brought out some amazing biographical epics, like A Bridge Too Far (1977); about an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany during World War – II; Cry Freedom (1987); based on the life and death of prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko; Chaplin (1992); on film genius, Sir Charles Chaplin, a.k.a. Charlie Chaplin; Shadowlands (1993); on the heart-rending love story between Oxford academic C. S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, and her tragic death from cancer; In Love and War (1996) on Ernest Hemingway’s experiences during the First World War; and Grey Owl (1999), another bio-pic, this time about Archibald Belaney, a.k.a. Grey Owl, who was a British schoolboy who turned into an Indian trapper, and called himself ‘Grey Owl’.

Richard Attenborough didn’t just make bio-pics, he made a few out and out fictional movies as well, and his last film was Closing the Ring (2007).

Richard Attenborough zfilms Down Under, in Sydney, in 2008, I watched Closing the Ring (2007), on the Big Screen, Attenborough’s last venture. Pretty Good but far from great. Starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton, Stephen Amell, Neve Campbell, Pete Postlethwaite and Brenda Fricker. The biggest mistake Attenborough did, was to take in the muscular pretty boy, Stephen Amell, who can’t act for peanuts. He just voiced the dialogues expressionlessly, like a pretty mannequin, a Barbie doll. The story was interesting enough though, set during the Second World War (in flashbacks) and the 1990’s; set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK and Michigan, USA. Towards the end, it becomes a bit cheesy and overtly melodramatic. But still an enjoyable enough watch, thanks to the veteran actors in it.

A sad loss, with the death of a British gem, Richard Attenborough. Day after tomorrow, 29th August, 2014, would be his 91st Birth anniversary. He’ll be remembered forever through his great works. May he rest in peace.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Iconic Hollywood starlet of the 40’s, Lauren Bacall, passed away earlier this week, on Tuesday, 12th of August, 2014, aged 89, after suffering a stroke.
Lauren Bacall 1942With hardly any legends, from the age of film-noir, still alive, it’s an end of an era. Especially with the death of Lauren Bacall, one of the most modern minded, sophisticated, innocently naughty and sultry stars of that period. She started her career as a teenager, as a fashion model, for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Soon she was discovered, by director Howard Hawks’ wife Nancy (a.k.a. Slim), when she spotted Bacall, on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Bacall was offered to act opposite either Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. Though a superb actor, Bogart didn’t interest Bacall much, but she was exited about starring opposite the very tall and handsome Cary Grant. But when she met Bogart in person, sparks flew. Soon Bogart and Bacall appeared in Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944), an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s worst known novel of the same name.

To Have and Have Not, is a movie I studied, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (which was on Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), from the University of Luton, Luton, UK. I did a presentation, comparing and contrasting Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) to Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944); a step-by-step scene evaluation of To Have and Have Not, and a 2,500 worded essay comparing the book by Ernest Hemingway, and the movie by Howard Hawks, where my ultimate conclusion was that the movie belonged completely ‘to Hawks and Hemingway not’.
Lauren Bacall collageBacall was a hit in her debut performance as ‘Slim’ (Bacall’s character in the movie was named after Nancy Hawks’ pet name, in the book such a character does not exist). One of the most iconic scenes in To Have and Have Not is where Bacall teaches Bogie how to whistle. Normally books are known to be better than the movie, it’s a clichéd fact. But in the case of To Have and Have Not, this is a rare instance, where the movie is definitely better than the boring book it was adapted from. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ernest Hemingway is a great author, but To Have and Have Not, is no where near among his best works. Howard Hawks has managed to edit, change and re-polish it into a beautiful movie.

Soon Humphrey Bogart married the much younger Lauren Bacall, in 1945. Known as Bogie and Bacall, the two were the most romantic couple that existed in Hollywood in the 40’s and 50’s, until Bogart’s death in 1957. Bogie and Bacall starred in many a famous Film-noir films of that period, including The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). In 1957, they were to appear in yet another film together, but that project never materialised, due to Humphrey Bogart’s demise due to cancer.

Lauren Bacall with Humphrey Bogart in 'To Have Have Not'

Lauren Bacall with Humphrey Bogart in ‘To Have Have Not’

Bacall was distraught after the loss of her husband, she re-married once in 1961, to Jason Robards, but that marriage didn’t work out. Then onwards she lived a single life, with her children and gave herself completely to the arts.

Her great film credits are endless, and span two centuries. Besides the Bogie and Bacall films, mentioned above, she starred in many a famous films without her beloved husband, including, Confidential Agent (1945) opposite Charles Boyer, Bright Leaf (1950) opposite Gary Cooper, Young Man with a Horn (1950) with Kirk Douglas and Doris Day, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, Blood Alley (1955) with John Wayne, Written on the Wind (1956) with Rock Hudson, Designing Woman (1957) opposite Gregory Peck, North West Frontier (1959) with Kenneth More, Sex and the Single Girl (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, Harper (1966) with Paul Newman and Janet Leigh, Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with an all-star cast, The Shootist (1976) with John Wayne and James Stewart, The Fan (1981) with James Garner and Michael Biehn, Appointment with Death (1988) with Peter Ustinov, Prêt-à-Porter (1994) with an all-star cast, The Mirror has two Faces (1996) with Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges, Dogville (2003) with Nicole Kidman, Birth (2004) with Nicole Kidman and Cameron Bright, Manderlay (2005) with Bryce Dallas Howard, The Forger (2012) with Alfred Molina, and Bacall was rumoured to be working on a new project, Trouble is my Business, to be released next year.

(Main Pix) Lauren Bacall with Jeff Bridges in 'The Mirror Has Two Faces'  (Inset) Bacall with Film Director/Actress Barbra Streisand in the same movie

(Main Pix) Lauren Bacall with Jeff Bridges in ‘The Mirror Has Two Faces’
(Inset) Bacall with Film Director/Actress Barbra Streisand in the same movie

Lauren Bacall, has won many a awards, but she’s been nominated only once for an Oscar, in 1997, for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Barbra Streisand’s directorial venture, The Mirror has two Faces (1996). In 2009, she was given an Academy Honorary Award in ‘recognition of her central place in the golden age of motion pictures’.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

(P.S. See my post 6° with Lauren Bacall from last year as well)

Today happens to be the 115th birth anniversary of, one of the greatest film directors, who ever lived, Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). To commemorate the legendary Hitchcock’s birth anniversary, Rob of movierob & Zoë of The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger started a blogathon, last month. I chose to critique Notorious (1946) & The Paradine Case (1947). Two movies I had already analysed for my, 30,000 worded, final dissertation, ‘Marriage in Hitchcock Film: from Rebecca to Marnie’, for my M.A. in International Cinema (2002-2003). Of course that was more than a decade ago. This post is a more of a fresh (or rather refreshed) approach towards the two Hitchcockian classics.

Notorious & The Paradine Case

Notorious
Notorious (1946); starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin; is set just after the war, where Alicia Huberman (Bergman) has gained notoriety for her father’s crimes. An American Intelligence agent, Devlin (Grant), recruits her to spy on a Nazi collaborator, friend of Alicia’s father, Alexander Sebastian (Rains), in turn risking Alicia’s life, as a modern day Mata-Hari.

The Paradine Case
The Paradine Case (1947); starring Gregory Peck, Alida Valli, Louis Jourdan, Ann Todd, Charles Coburn, Charles Laughton and Ethel Barrymore; is about a psychological extra marital fling, without any physical contact, between a married lawyer, Anthony Keane (Peck) and his client, a convicted murderer, the widow Paradine (Valli). Keane cheats on his wife, Gay Keane (Todd), on a psychological level.

Character-Analysis
Hitchcock, in general, is superb at creating tension, within his films, within relationships of his characters, between husbands and wives, friends and foes, the show and it’s spectators, the film and it’s audience. He brings out some superb character sketches, suspenseful plots and tense viewing, with excellent results. Notorious & The Paradine Case are famously known as the zenith and nadir of Hitchcockian Cinema, of the 1940’s, i.e. the highest and lowest points of Hitchcockian classics of that decade, respectively. But if The Paradine Case, is supposedly the lowest film by Hitchcock, in the 40’s; I wonder what, the majority of crap we see today, should be called. Notorious, is an excellent movie, and The Paradine Case, is near excellence.

In Notorious, we see Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), a beautiful Hitchcockian blonde, being used by the American intelligence, as a modern day Mata-Hari; while Huberman only risks her life, less for patriotic reasons, and more for the man she loves, Devlin (Cary Grant), to the extent of marrying the enemy, Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains). Devlin is an adamant, cold shouldered, character, who not only does not talk Alicia out of it, but he also never conveys his true feelings towards her, until the slowly poisoned Alicia is bedridden and unable to save herself from the physical and psychological entrapment befallen her. Sebastian is ruthless, yet a typical mama’s boy, who can never seem to say no to his mother (Leopoldine Konstantin). When he discovers, his wife is an American agent, the Nazi collaborator, runs straight to his mother for help. Sebastian is both jealous, of the debonair looking Devlin, and broken, to believe he fell for an American Agent, Alicia Huberman. It hurts his male chauvinistic ego. The Matriarch, Madame Sebastian, Huberman’s mother-in-law, rules the Nazi household. She controls Sebastian’s every move, except for his choice in marriage. When her son comes running to her, after realising he is married to a spy, she is the pragmatic one, who schemes to kill her daughter-in-law slowly, by poisoning her coffee daily, so as nobody else suspects, while Alex Sebastian, just wants to kill her off at once and be done with it. Notorious is a beautiful, unpredictable and tense movie, one of the best of Hitchcockian-noir-cinema.

In The Paradine Case, we see a bewitchingly beautiful woman, Madame Paradine (Alida Valli), accused of being a man eater, more for her beauty, than actual proof (though she has lead a colourful past, before she was married), who is being prosecuted for killing her blind husband, by poisoning him. The widow Paradine, is an ambiguous character, for we find it difficult to evaluate her, until the end of the film, whether she is a femme fatale or a heroine. For we see her being honest, about her past, and she states she has nothing to do with her husband’s death, at the same time she doesn’t like any innocent party being accused of the crime; yet everything points accursedly towards her being the criminal, and everything suggests she’s a man eater even now. Meanwhile, we see Anthony Keane (Gregory Peck), the widow Paradine’s defence lawyer, being infatuated by her, and believing he’s in love with her, despite being happily married for eleven years to a beautiful classy lady, Gay Keane (Ann Todd). Thus we see Tony Keane suffering with a guilty conscience and the famed ‘Seven-year-itch’ syndrome, after eleven years of marriage. Gay Keane is an understanding wife, though jealous of Mrs. Paradine, she wants her husband to win the case, for she’s afraid if Mrs. Paradine gets the death sentence, she’d lose her husband for good, as he’d brood over Madame Paradine’s death, and his failure, for the rest of his life. Yet Gay Keane, doesn’t let her husband even kiss her, while that Paradine woman is in his mind. This movie, with a massive cast, has a load of interesting character sketches. But I shan’t continue to that extent. The court case is one of the most intriguing court cases ever seen on screen. The Paradine Case, is a must watch for any film buff, especially a Hitchcock buff.

Both, Notorious & The Paradine Case, are two Hitchcockian greats, worth checking out. Notorious is among my favourite films ever.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

hitchcock Blog

Thank you Rob and Zoë, for letting me work on these two classics.
Cheers
Nuwan Sen

Audrey Hepburn plays ‘the afternoon girl’ of an ageing playboy in, Billy Wilder’s acclaimed romantic comedy, Ariane (1957) a.k.a. Love in the Afternoon.
Love in the Afternoon (1957) - Audrey Hepburn, Gary CooperI am taking part in ‘THE BILLY WILDER BLOGATHON’, organised by Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled. Being a fan Audrey Hepburn, I chose to blog about one of my favourite Billy Wilder (& Audrey Hepburn) films, Love in the Afternoon (Ariane).

The first time I watched Ariane, which is set in Paris, France, was on the small screen, in Paris itself, back in 2008. Pretty late, for an Audrey Hepburn fan since childhood, since the early-mid 1980’s. The following year, 2009, just before leaving Paris, I came across the Ariane DVD, at the ‘Virgin Stores’ on the Champs-Élysées. Obviously I had to buy it, and have watched it a gazillion times since then.

Within my ‘Top-5’ favourite Audrey Hepburn films (4th to be exact), and with a great star cast with the likes of Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier and John McGiver, Ariane is amongst the most beautiful ‘Romantic Comedies’ ever, and one of Billy Wilder’s best in that genre. Wilder was a versatile film director who experimented with many a genres, from ‘Film Noir’ to ‘Melodrama’ to ‘Screwball Comedy’, et al.
Ariane posterSynopsis
A young French girl named Ariane Chavasse (Hepburn), a cellist, lives a simple life with her father Claude Chavasse (Chevalier), a private investigator, in a charming little apartment in the heart of Paris. The private eye’s latest case involves one of most notorious playboys, Frank Flannagan (Gary Cooper), he has been following, and the wife of a constantly grunting businessman played by John McGiver. One day Ariane overhears the businessman planning to shoot Flannagan who is romancing his wife in ‘suite 14’ at the Ritz Hotel. She rushes to save him, as The Gypsy’s play ‘Hot Paprika’ and ‘Fascination’ in the suite, and in turn can’t save herself falling for the very tall, ruggedly handsome, American, that Flannagan happens to be.
Soon she ends up being the nameless girl, he keeps referring to as ‘The Thin Girl’, he meets every afternoon.
Gary Cooper & Audrey Hepburn - Love in the Afternoon picture 2The Analysis
What is really interesting is how cleverly Ariane’s character manipulates Flannagan’s character and drives him to the verge of madness, to the extent of him forgetting his own business, i.e. the business of being a conniving playboy, so that he mends his ways and becomes completely hers. She’s so innocent and yet so smart, managing to push his ‘jealousy’ button to the brink of insanity.

Mr. Flannagan only meets Ariane twice, initially, before leaving Paris, and she’s already head over heels in love and pain. When he returns, he fails to recognise her on a chance meeting at a Symphony (here there is a cameo by Audrey Young, wife of film director Billy Wilder, as Cooper’s character’s date for the evening). Once he manages to remember Ariane, they start meeting every summer afternoon, but she let’s Mr. Flannagan only kiss her. She pretends to be a playgirl herself whose had at least 19 men before him, and sights many a stories of her various concocted conquests, that she has read through her own private library, i.e. her fathers collection of his various investigative files. Added to which she manages to bring false proof of her lovers, by showcasing fake gifts like a Herman fur coat or a platinum anklet. Yet she never lets him know who she is. She even hides her cello so that he has no aware that she is a musician. Thus the biggest complain for poor old Flannagan is that he can’t get to ‘first base’ with her, dispelling any indication, that the audience might assume, of the couple having sex in the afternoon. A playboy falls for a virgin, who pretends to be a playgirl that doesn’t let him touch her. A hilarious movie, that twists the playboy’s existence through a naïve young girl madly in love. The original ending of the film was changed (or rather a voiceover added), for the film was otherwise threatened to land on the ‘Catholic Legion of Decency’s – Condemned List’.

The music is beautiful. The scenery, the art décor and the cinematography are breathtaking. The atmosphere is romantic. And Love in the Afternoon is one of the most romantically enjoyable films ever made. One can just lose oneself in the movie, just like one can just lose oneself in the city of love itself, Paris.
Love in the AfternoonOther Essential Facts
In the beginning of the film, the voice over of Maurice Chevalier is heard saying, ‘‘….in Paris, people make love ….., The butcher, the baker, …….. Once in a while even existentialists do it…..’’. Audrey Hepburn filmed Ariane back-to-back with Stanley Donen’s Funny Face (1957), which too was set in Paris, and where Hepburn played an ‘existentialist’ herself (see my post Audrey Hepburn & The Musical).
Originally Cary Grant was to be cast as the male lead, but he refused, as he felt he was too old for it. Ironically, an even older Gary Cooper was cast instead. The 55 year old Cooper, though initially felt miscast for the role, ended up feeling very happy with the results. Cooper and Hepburn had great chemistry besides their massive age gap.
Director Billy Wilder, one of the greatest film personalities ever, was born on the 22nd of June, 1906. ‘THE BILLY WILDER BLOGATHON’ was created to celebrate this master’s work for his 108th Birth anniversary, which falls day after tomorrow. Billy Wilder was born exactly 69 years before I came into existence, to date. Some other famous personalities who share our (Wilder’s & mine) birth date, but not year, are Andrée Lumière, Charles Lindbergh Jr., Lionel Banks, Michael Todd, Prunella Scales, Amrish Puri, Meryl Streep, Cyndi Lauper, Douglas Smith and Joe Dempsie to name a few.

A must watch for any fan of Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn and the good old ‘Romantic Comedy’.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Thank you Aurora and Kellee, for letting me write about Love in the Afternoon (Ariane) for ‘THE BILLY WILDER BLOGATHON’.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen

Guess the films below, and the year of release :-

Q1. Q & A 1Q2.Q & A 2.Q3.Q & A 3.Q4.Q & A 4.Q5.Q & A 5.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Clues:-

  • The movies were released between 1920 and 1950
  • Check out Tags for hints on various genre’s, stars et al

Answers:-
I shall provide the answers myself, once some of my fellow bloggers have given this a try

Have Fun with the quiz

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

 

Yesterday evening I watched Les Diaboliques (1955), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot and Paul Meurisse, on TV5 MONDE.
Les Diaboliques (55')
Les Diaboliques is set in a boys boarding school, where two teachers; one the timid rich wife (and co-school principle), Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot) of the school Principle, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), and the other, his tough mistress Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret); plot to get rid of a common ruthless enemy they both fear, Michel Delassalle, who forcefully keeps them both under his thumb.
Les Diaboliques (55') Véra Clouzot & Simone Signoret
An interesting piece of film noir and dark comedy ensues. When the school has a three day break, most schoolboys go home for the holidays. Christina and Nicole, take a trip down to Nicole’s place, carrying along an enormous empty wicker woven basket trunk. To confirm their alibi, as they plan to put their conspiracy into action, Nicole has a couple of tenants residing on the above floor. At night time the scheme of things start taking shape, Christina unwillingly calls and lures her husband to Nicole’s under the pretence that she desires a divorce, unable to accept his violent treatment of her, and his philandering ways. And since the school actually belongs to Christina, she would like to have it back. Being the egoistical shallow male, who won’t easily let her go, Michel is too ashamed to admit his wife had the strength to leave him, and he has to run behind her. Thus, luckily for the two female conspirators, he leaves the school secretly, without anyone’s knowledge. And since Christina has taken the car, he has to take the train.
As he come to Nicole’s house, Nicole goes upstairs, having added a sleeping dose into an alcohol bottle and left it for Michel. The upstairs neighbours are listening to an entertainment channel on the radio, and once Nicole heads there, the trio listen to the show on full volume. Thus Michel’s entry below is unheard by the upstairs neighbours. Michel comes and threatens his nervous wife, who is in two minds about carrying out this task. Eventually, getting tired of this charade, of to kill or not kill, Christina lets her husband drink a few glasses of alcohol, which gets him drowsy enough to fall asleep. Meanwhile Nicole comes back, fills the bathtub, the two women carry their shared lover and tormentor, and drown him in the tub.
Next morning he’s wrapped in a massive table cloth, stuffed into the wicker woven trunk, and the trio head back to the boarding school. They reach there by night-time, and dump the body into the musty swimming pool.
Les Diaboliques (55') pics
A few days later, the body not having surfaced,  the already at nerves end, Christina, with a heart condition, starts to worry. Soon under false pretence, of trying to locate Nicole’s keys; that supposedly accidentally fall into pool, and a boy who dives trying to find it, instead comes up with a cigarette lighter belonging to Michel; the swimming pool is pumped out. To Christina and Nicole’s horror, the pool is empty, not even a sign of the body. What happened to it? Who could have moved it? Why?

What follows, is both, a horrific and comical turn of events, at the same time. Soon the suit Michel was dressed in is dry-cleaned and returned to the hostel, the naked body of a man fitting Michel’s description is found in the River Seine, in Paris. A private investigator, who is a retired police officer, takes the case to locate where the philandering husband of the naïve Christina is, against her wishes. A school boy supposedly gets punished by Michel for breaking a window. It keeps getting more are more baffling and scary, along the way, with non-stop suspense and an ironical twisted ending, where the culprit becomes the victim. Not one dull moment. An Excellent piece of Film-noir by film director Henri-Georges Clouzot, which keeps us at the edge of our seats, and, till close to the end, we never tend to guess what is actually happening.
Les Diaboliques (55') The Pool
Simone Signoret is excellent, as always, as the tough cookie, who never betrays an ounce of emotion, and only starts to show cracks of fear towards the end.
Véra Clouzot (wife of film director Henri-Georges Clouzot, in real life) as Christina Delassalle, the rich lady, the co-school principle, is superb as the nervous, naïve wife of a cruel husband. She reminded me of Joan Fontaine’s nervous nameless character, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940). In fact this suspenseful thriller feels very Hitchcockian till the end.
The rest of the cast too are a perfect fit in their respective roles.
Excellent!! A Must Watch, for any film buff, and fans of Film Noir. 10/10

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Last night I watched Hitchcock (2012), when it was shown on Star Movies.

Hitchcock film (2012)Starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as Alma Lucy Reville (Hitchcock’s Wife), Toni Collette as Peggy Robertson, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, Josh Yeo as John Gavin and James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins. Any Hitchcockian fan, who hasn’t watched (or even heard of) this movie, can no doubt, now guess which period of Hitchcock’s life this film is set during. Yes, it’s set in the late 50’s, 1959 to be exact, during the making of his first ‘B’ movie project, that is too good to be called a B-movie. During the filming of the cult-classic Psycho (1960).

The movie begins in 1944, with Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the serial killer that inspired the charcter of Norman Bates in Psycho, killing off his brother. Then we see Anthony Hopkins do a brilliant imitation of Hitchcock’s famed introductory ‘Good Evening’ speech from his TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962). From there the film shifts to 1959, at the premier of North By Northwest (1959) starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Hounded by the press, Hitchcock is asked, since he is 60 years old whether he plans to retire. We see his shocked face, and soon we see the even more shocking image of Hopkins’ Hitchcock in a bathtub, asking his wife (whose undergarments remind you of Janet Leigh in Psycho) if she thinks he’s too old. He’s just bored. unaware of what to do next. Soon he discovers the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch, and the rest is history as we know it.

Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)

Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)

The performances are brilliant by all the lead, and the supporting cast. We see Hitchcock’s worry and desperation as Psycho brings them to a near financial crisis, as Paramount refuses to fund the movie. Hitchcock mortgages his house to fund the project himself. We see his wife’s support, meanwhile Hitchcock’s own paranoia and inferiority complex makes him suspect his wife, Alma, of having an affair with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). Only thing that somewhat bored me was Hitchcock’s psychological interactions with Ed Gein. I feel the problem was more with actor Michael Wincott playing Ed Gein. Not that he was bad, but he bored me during those sequences, for otherwise those scenes felt more of a necessity to show us Hitchcock’s own mental torture.

Loved the last scene, with a crow landing on Hitchcock’s (Hopkins’) shoulder, an obvious reference to his next project The Birds (1963), the concept of which was based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier.

None the less, a very good movie, worth checking out, especially if you are a Hitchcockian fan. 8/10

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense