The Movie Snob checks in with a new review of an old movie.
Gaslight (B+). This 1942 classic stars the beauteous Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) as Paula Alquist. In the opening scene, we see a very young Paula being escorted away from the London townhome where she has just discovered the body of her murdered aunt (her guardian since birth). Flash forward a few years, and Paula is living in Italy. She has followed in her aunt’s footsteps by studying music and singing, but we learn she has just been swept off her feet by a debonair foreigner named Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer, Fanny). Anton is strangely eager to move to London, and into the townhouse Paula inherited from her aunt. And once they are ensconced there, Paula seems to start to lose her grip on her sanity, and Gregory becomes ever more controlling. What is happening? Straight-arrow Scotland Yard detective Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten, The Third Man) senses something is amiss, but can he figure it out in time to help Paula? I quite enjoyed this classic old noir. Watch for a young Angela Lansbury (TV’s Murder, She Wrote) as a saucy housemaid.
The Movie Snob takes in a classic.
Soylent Green (B). I caught this movie the other day as part of The Magnolia’s ongoing classic film series. It’s a 1973 sci-fi flick set in New York City. The year is 2022, the Earth is overheated and overcrowded, and most of the impoverished population is fed with rations of unappetizing wafers called things like Soylent Red, Soylent Yellow, and yes, Soylent Green. When a director of the Soylent Corporation is murdered in his plush high-rise apartment, a somewhat crooked cop named Thorn (Charlton Heston, Antony & Cleopatra) takes on the case. It’s good, cheesy fun as Thorne follows the trail, uncovers Soylent’s ugly secrets, and cozies up to the decedent’s lovely mistress Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young, TV’s Peyton Place). The depiction of NYC as a dilapidated city coming apart at the seams has a Philip K. Dick feel to it, but the movie is actually based on a sci-fi novel by Harry Harrison called Make Room! Make Room! I recognized Dick Van Patten (TV’s Eight Is Enough) and Chuck Connors (Old Yeller), but not Joseph Cotten (The Third Man) in the role of the Soylent magnate who’s marked for murder.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
The Third Man (A). A local theater is showing a series of classic movies on Tuesday nights, and this past Tuesday I checked out this 1949 film noir. After seeing a “classic movie,” I usually think, “Oh, that was nice,” or “Oh, that was interesting.” This is the first time I can remember thinking, “Wow, that was an awesome movie.” When the film opens, an American hack novelist named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten, Citizen Kane) is arriving in post-WWII Vienna, which is a divided city much like Berlin. He has come at the invitation of an old friend, Harry Lime, but it turns out he is just in time for Lime’s funeral after a fatal traffic accident. A British officer tells Martins that Lime was mixed up in some unsavory business and urges him to return to America at once, but Martins decides to poke around and see if Lime’s death was really an accident. He is quickly entranced by Lime’s lover, a beautiful actress named Anna (Alida Valli, Suspiria, who reminded me a lot of Vivien Leigh), and his suspicions about Lime’s death are aroused further as he interviews the few witnesses to the accident. Can Martins get to the bottom of the mystery without meeting a similar accident of his own? What will happen with Martins and Anna? I was thoroughly engrossed. Roger Ebert included The Third Man in his 2002 book The Great Movies, and he remarked, “Of all the movies I have seen, this one most completely embodies the romance of going to the movies.” Awfully high praise, but I can see why he said it. If you like movies, you owe to yourself to see The Third Man.