American Cinema

Buster Keaton and His Pork Pie Hat

Following the rise of the top hat, bowler or derby, Panama, fedora, and flat cap across the nineteenth century, by the first decades of the twentieth century a man could scarcely open his front door, much less appear before a discerning public, without some suitable form of headwear. In the realm of silent comedy, Charlie Chaplin tramped about in a tight…

Capsule Movie Review: Big (1988)

Big Fantasy Comedy | 104 Minutes | 1988 | United States * * * The last of a cluster of movies, all released within the space of a year between the autumn of 1987 and the summer of 1988, to depict youths turning into or swapping forms with adult men – the others were Like Father Like Son (1987), Vice Versa (1988), 18 Again! (1988), and…

January Film: The Great Flamarion Analysis

Based on a short story by the Austrian writer Vicki Baum, The Great Flamarion is full of film history resonance and would seem ripe for critical reassessment: set in the world of vaudeville, depicting an embittered artiste who kills at the behest of a femme fatale, the picture was an early directorial effort from Anthony Mann, who would later become renowned…

January Film: The Great Flamarion (1945)

  The Great Flamarion 76 minutes | 13 January 1945 | United States ‘Erich von Stroheim is The Great Flamarion, a marksman who employs a married couple for his vaudeville act. Having decided to rid herself of her husband, Connie plots to trick The Great Flamarion into doing the dirty work for her.’ Director: Anthony Mann Producer: William Lee Wilder Screenplay: Anne Wigton, Heinz…

The Birds (1963): A Bird’s-Eye View of Bodega Bay

In a 1969 interview with Roger Ebert, Alfred Hitchcock described how he and his team achieved one of the most famous shots in The Birds. At a glance a bird’s-eye view of Bodega Bay, the aerial image depicts gulls swooping into frame and down towards the site of a fire which has broken out by the town’s waterfront restaurant, the result…

October Film: Carnival of Souls Analysis

Herk Harvey – the professional name of Harold Arnold Harvey, born 3 June 1924 – was a student of the theatre, first as an undergraduate then as a graduate at the University of Kansas, acting and directing and afterwards remaining at the university to teach. In 1952 he was hired by the Centron Corporation, an industrial and educational film production…

October Film: Carnival of Souls (1962)

  Carnival of Souls 83 minutes | 26 September 1962 | United States ‘Atmospheric 60s B-horror film with a cult following. Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around with two friends but everything goes wrong when challenged to a drag race and their car gets forced off of a bridge. The car sinks into the murky depths, and all three women…

September Film: The Stranger Analysis

The Stranger was the third Orson Welles directorial effort to see the light of day and the dark of cinema screens, following Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Production lasted from late September until 21 November 1945, with the picture released the following July. Welles’ earliest take on film noir – preceding The Lady from Shanghai (1947), and Touch of Evil…

September Film: The Stranger (1946)

  The Stranger 95 minutes | 2 July 1946 | United States ‘Set in Connecticut after World War II, The Stranger is a cat and mouse game between Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission and Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi who has assumed the false identity of Dr. Charles Rankin. To complete his new intelligentsia disguise,…