John Huston

The Maltese Falcon 95
[ The first collaboration between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart (who also worked together on other brilliant films like “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The African Queen”) is also Huston’s first picture and, by many accounts, the first film noir. The opening scroll and its mentions of Knight Templars and pirates having been involved with the titular priceless token instantly grabs your attention, the opening scene with private dick Sam Spade rolling a cigarette then meeting with a female client quickly seals the deal, then the twists start unrolling like wildfire and there’s no turning back. The smoky B&W cinematography, the moody score, the hard-boiled dialogue, the femme fatale (“What else is there that I can buy you with?”), the quirky supporting performances by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet (who both turned up again the next year with Bogie in “Casablanca”, probably not coincidentally) and the very Bogartitude of it all are simply intoxicating. It’s a cliché to say that they don’t make them like this anymore, but damn! Every single beat of this yarn is awesome, there’s none of the filler and nonsense that make up so many of the movies today. Sam Spade is one of the coolest characters ever – as the Fat Man tells him at one point, “There’s never any telling what you’ll say or do next, except that it’s bound to be something astonishing.” ]1942
In This Our Life

Across the Pacific

Report from the Aleutians

The Battle of San Pietro

Let There Be Light

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 89
[ Humphrey Bogart is riveting as a down-on-his-luck American in Mexico who takes on prospecting with fellow bum Tim Holt and old-timer Walter Huston. They must face bandits, exhaustion and the paranoid fear of being robbed of one’s share by the others. This is classic studio moviemaking, well-oiled entertainment that never misses a beat but also has a thing or two to say about the darker chambers of the human heart. ]

Key Largo

We Were Strangers

The Asphalt Jungle 65
[ Herr Doctor’s got a plan for a caper, but he needs a financier, a box man, a getaway driver and a hooligan. And when you’re doing a heist, the most people get involved, the most double-crosses and finking are likely to happen. Like “The Maltese Falcon”, Huston’s earlier film noir, “The Asphalt Jungle” has stark B&W cinematography, snappy dialogue, tough guys and knockout dames (including a young Marilyn Monroe), but it sorely lacks a Bogart-strong leading man. Nonetheless, this twisted and morally ambiguous yarn about the greed and treachery of men kept me engrossed. ]

The Red Badge of Courage

The African Queen 90
[ Movie star heaven, with Humphrey Bogart doing his gruff man’s man boat captain against Katherine Hepburn’s sophisticated English lady. Laughs, thrills and sensuality ensue as the two come across white water rapids, wild animals and German soldiers. “I never dreamed a mere physical experience could be so stimulating!” ]

Moulin Rouge

Beat the Devil

Moby Dick

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

The Barbarian and the Geisha

The Roots of Heaven

The Unforgiven

The Misfits

Freud: The Secret Passion

The List of Adrian Messenger

The Night of the Iguana

The Bible: In The Beginning

Reflections in a Golden Eye 52
[ This is an odd flick. Ultimately sort of a psycho-sexual thriller, for the longest time, it’s not quite clear what the hell it’s about. Taking place on an army base, it deals with Major Penderton (Marlon Brando), his shameless hussy of a wife (Elizabeth Taylor) and her lover (Brian Keith), who’s also a military officer and married to a depressive woman (Julie Harris)… Oh, and then there’s the latter’s effete Filipino houseboy (Zorro David) and a mysterious enlisted man (Robert Forster in his very first role) who keeps stalking around the Major’s house and in the surrounding woods, often in the nude (!)… Generally well crafted but marred by frequent false notes, featuring mostly good but hardly unforgettable performances, this adaptation of a 1941 Carson McCullers novel suffers from flirting with then risqué material (adultery, homosexuality, voyeurism, fetishism, etc.) but not really following through with it. Brando, Taylor and Forster kept me engrossed enough, though, as did the abundant horseback riding scenes, especially the frantic one in which the Major rides his wife’s white stallion. ]

Casino Royale 21
[ Whoaaaa, what a mess! Yeah, let’s make a James Bond movie with 8 writers, 5 directors (including Huston) and 3 actors alternately playing Bond. First at the bat is David Niven, stuttering his way through roomfuls of Scottish babes to major boredom. Then Woody Allen has an amusing enough coupla scenes and Peter Sellers does his thing all right, but nothing really connects. Nowhere near as well as anything in the “Austin Powers” trilogy, that’s for sure. I did get a kick out of watching Orson Welles (doing magic tricks!) as Le Chiffre, though. ]

Sinful Davey

A Walk with Love and Death

The Kremlin Letter

Fat City

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

The Mackintosh Man

The Man Who Would Be King

Wise Blood


Victory 40
[ I saw the DVD case and I was like, no way, this ain’t for real, this is one of those fake movies people remember Troy McClure from: “Leper in the Backfield”, “Locker Room Towel Fight: The Blinding of Larry Driscoll”… And here we have “Victory”, about a soccer match in occupied Paris between Nazi all-stars and Allied POWs, starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pelé, Max Von Sydow and even French Canadian actress Carole Laure! The actual film is a routine sports flick crossed with World War II escape clichés, but it makes for an amusing curiosity. ]


Under the Volcano

Prizzi’s Honor

The Dead