American Cinema

August Film: Detour (1945)

  Detour 68 minutes | 30 November 1945 | United States ‘Man is involved in two freakish accidents that make him look like a murderer. Poverty row masterwork that is the most precise elucidation of the noir theme of explicit fatalism.’ – Spencer Selby Director: Edgar G. Ulmer Producer: Leon Fromkess Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith Based On: Martin Goldsmith’s 1939 novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale Starring: Tom…

The Birds (1963): Storyboarding the Scene at the Schoolhouse

One of the myths to have built up around the career of Alfred Hitchcock maintains that, after planning and storyboarding his films so thoroughly, once on set he never so much as peeked through the camera viewfinder, bearing each scene from start to finish precisely in his head. This sounds barely sensible, an uncharacteristic relinquishing of control and disavowal of prospective…

The Birds (1963) and Its San Francisco Pet Shop Opening

Analyses of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds have typically tended in two directions. There is the film’s at-the-time innovate use of special effects, which were added by Lewis Hampton and Ub Iwerks, but which required much in the way of planning and shooting: careful storyboarding, trained gulls, numerous camera angles, and then plenty of editing to bring together different shots. And there…

Notes on the 20th Anniversary of Clueless

This month Clueless turned twenty. Amy Heckerling’s film, starring a cast led by Alicia Silverstone, was released in American cinemas from 19 July 1995. It would not appear on movie screens in Europe until the autumn: crossing the Atlantic to arrive in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 20 October, it spent the next six months working its way across the…

Food & Drink on Film: A New Leaf’s Malaga Cooler

When Henry Graham and Henrietta Lowell first meet in Elaine May’s 1971 film A New Leaf, it is over a cup of tea: or rather three cups, and quite literally over them for Henrietta has just spilled all three. ‘Incredibly clumsy woman isn’t she – no wonder she’s doesn’t ride’, utters Henry’s friend Bo, who has problems of his own:…

Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971)

Henry Graham in A New Leaf is an artist in shades of green: his palette is of money, which he spends not judiciously, but with grace and flair and a firm creative hand. Born into great wealth, his spending is an act of pure self-expression. The trouble is that Henry Graham has overspent, and the cheques which he has passed…

The Unknown Known: The Epistemologies of Errol Morris and Donald Rumsfeld

Errol Morris’s documentary The Unknown Known views the political career of Donald Rumsfeld and his time as US Secretary of Defence between 2001 and 2006. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival at the end of last August; was given a limited release in the United States on Wednesday; and has been showing at select Picturehouse Cinemas in the UK…

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – starring James Stewart and John Wayne – is often considered the last great film John Ford directed, in a career that comprised around 140 films over a period of fifty years. Released in 1962, Ford would direct only four more feature-length pictures; including one more with his friend and longtime collaborator Wayne, in…