There are a few holes in my film diary: an embarrassing one has now been remedied. Criterion has an absolutely mesmerising release of Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows with the radiant Jeanne Moreau. I swear there’s not a frame that doesn’t sing. Of course there’s the fine soundtrack by Miles but you probably already knew that. If you haven’t seen it — or haven’t seen it lately — it’s about time, don’t you think?
Get spooky with this adaptation of a Gogol story:
The first filmed version of ‘grandmother of noir’ Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall. More recently there’s The Deep End. Both interesting in what they use and what they leave out. The novel is terrific. Teaching it again in the spring.
Join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and agonise over your art. Ken Russell directs a fabulous cast, full of eye-searingly vivid images. Just what you need.
Fabulous version of the MR James story with Michael Hordern, directed by the esteemed Jonathan Miller and featuring the Norfolk coast.
This taut little thriller starts off going pell-mell and never really stops. The script by Jack Whittingham hasn’t got an ounce of fat and barely slows enough to breathe. Of course you expect Dirk Bogarde to turn in a compelling performance, but the real surprise for most folks is child star (later historian of art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford) Jon Whiteley. It’s he who kicks things off, tearing through the streets and nearly getting run over by a Watney’s Red Barrel wagon, all the while trailing his teddy bear.
When little Robbie runs into Bogarde’s Chris Lloyd in an abandoned warehouse near the river with a dead body, it easy to assume the worst will happen. Like many films of its time, the rubble from the war gives the cityscape a suitably noir seediness as they both seek to elude the authorities and unravel the events that made them run.
We’re so accustomed to Spielberg’s cloying sentimentality: it’s so refreshing to see a child actor who’s not the least bit self-conscious and to enjoy a story that is touching without ever giving in to sentiment. The harsh journey north from London all the way to Scotland bonds them together in rough and unexpected ways.
Classic director Charles Crichton (if you don’t know him, remedy that at once) makes the most of the spare dialogue and his actors’ faces. The folk song and fairy tale scene alone would be enough to feel proud of for a whole career.
Check out all the overlooked gems at Todd’s blog.
Via the Internet Archive: 61 minutes, starring Faye Emerson, Julie Bishop, Frank Wilcox, and Roland Drew.
And the ‘pedia says:
Lady Gangster is a 1942 Warner Bros. B picture film noir directed by Robert Florey, credited as “Florian Roberts”. It is based on the play Gangstress, or Women in Prison by Dorothy Mackaye, who had spent ten months of a one-to-three-years sentence in San Quentin State Prison. Lady Gangster is a remake of the pre-Code film, Ladies They Talk About (1933). Jackie Gleason plays a supporting role.