Film Reviews by CH

Welcome to CH's film reviews page. CH has written 150 reviews and rated 154 films.

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Paranoiac!

Pulling Out The Stops

(Edit) 20/06/2021

How can a film as good as Paranoiac (1963) slip from general notice? Rarely has there been one which, in ninety minutes, takes so many turns and brings so many gasps. It was directed, for Hammer, by Freddie Francis, whose earlier career as a cinematographer proves a great force in the shades of black and white in a film set in the vicinity of the Dorset coast.

Working from a script by Jimmy Sangster, which derived from Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar, he fashioned a near-Gothic set-up which opens with shots of two sides of a tombstone: the deaths of two wealthy parents followed by the drowning of one of their sons.

Inside the church, as the vicar intones about those events a decade ago, the other son – Oliver Reed – sits at the organ and, as the music swells, his sister (Janette Scott) looks up and faints at the sight of somebody. To the fore comes their aunt (a formidable Sheila Burrell) who took charge of the children in tandem with the local accountant (Maurice Denham) as the day looms when sports car-driving, heavy-drinking Reed is set to come into half a million.

As one can imagine, the atmosphere in the rambling family house is fraught. Is the sister mad? Who is in league with whom?

And what can any of them make of a startling arrival?

Surprises are sprung in the first fifteen minutes, but it would be unfair to reveal even these, for they are the foundation upon which the rest is built. Surprise follows surprise, all of which make the very film a great surprise. Nobody with a relish of the resources shown by modestly-funded British films should miss it. Oak-lined rooms lit by candles bring as much a cliff-edge atmosphere as the sunlit chalk of the cliffs themselves.

There is more to be written about the use of organs in film. What is is about such a great instrument that the very press of its keyboard harbingers the sinister?

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The Driver

Squeals and Squealers

(Edit) 16/06/2021

What will happen to Hollywood when automobiles are not only driverless but guided by pavement devices which limit speed? Such tyre-squealing chases - often after the real owner has mysteriously left the keys in the ignition – are familiar, and can be enjoyed by those happier with pedals of a bicycle. The thought comes to mind during The Driver (1978). The cars have names (a Mercedes is notably roughed up) but the actors simply go by the task allotted them in a series of heists throughout a raw Los Angeles. The eponymous man at the wheel is Ryan O'Neal, a professional hired for his skill at making a getaway which leaves others standing – or lying on their sides as their car takes a tumble.

This is all too much for Bruce Dern, a decidedly weird detective whose hair aspires to an Art Garfunkel cut. He is determined to bring in O'Neal, even if it means that he has to depute a particularly unsavoury gang to act as go-betweens. Add Isabelle Adjani – well, love interest is pitching it a bit high – and here is something that, on the streets, is indeed explosive; elsewhere, in seedy rooms, it is, as written and directed by Walter Hill, close to the existential. Here are people with chasms between them, listlessness alleviated only by breaking the speed limit and turning the wheel just in time to avoid something coming from another direction at the lights.

Meditative it isn't, but its sparse dialogue is sharp – and one cannot help recall that scene in Truffaut's La Nuit Américaine where a stunt driver wears a long wig so that, on screen, a woman appears to be at the wheel. And one wonders whether Hill had to use day-for-night techniques to bring in all this more safely.

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The Chain

Completion

(Edit) 15/06/2021

A mystery that The Chain (1984) should be little known, for it addresses two perennial themes: the seven deadly sins and the fraught business, in Britain, of moving house.

With a script by Jack Rosenthal who otherwise wrote, memorably so, for television, this is a portmanteau film in which seven couples get up early, this the day of their moving a rung up a property ladder which can often feel more like a rope turning into a noose. None of them has Ealing in their sights, but the spirit of those social comedies pervades this one.

Not least in its ensemble cast. With no member of it out to hog it, all get to give their best, part of it propelled by the removal firm which is lugging the belongings of a young couple whose bigger place is funded by giving the basement to her widowed, dictatorial father, Maurice Denham whose delaying obstructions will bring him grief.

As happens to a penny-pinching, well-heeled man (Nigel Hawthorne in a horrendous blazer) whose wife (an ever-pained Anna Massey) despairs of him as he unscrews door plates and even reaches for their light bulbs. He is an emblem of Avarice.

The Sins, though, are not laboured. Here, with a suggestion of La Ronde, is pre-AIDS London in the Eighties, a city which embraces white vans and limousines. And, all the while, aboard the removal van there are, among its aching-back crew, Bernard Hill who is asked to test colleague Warren Mitchell about the philosophers upon whom he will be examined during the evening, after this gruelling day, at what appears to be a night school (whatever happened to night school?).

Spinoza and others might appear remote from this daily life but, without over-doing it, Mitchell manages to bring words of wisdom to those in the throes of uprooting themselves. Billie Whitelaw is well known for her work with Samuel Beckett, and here, as a widow who hankers for her native Mediterranean island, she has an accent far from her stage work – but conveys a similar spirit of somebody caught in a bewildering world.

A film to relish – and wish there were more of its kind.

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The Day the Earth Caught Fire

Final Edition?

(Edit) 15/06/2021

Time was when Fleet Street was in Fleet Street and newspapers dealt in news. True to such cinematic form, The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) has several scenes of the latest issue clattering through the presses and the front page filling the screen with a thud as events unfurl. In this case, with an original script by Wolf Mankowitz and director Val Guest, it turns around the contemporary fear of the Bomb. It has not killed anybody recently but, as two Daily Express reporters discover, several tests of it have tipped the planet off the axis which brought and sustained life up and under these shores.

This is no science-fiction extravaganza. The effects are minimal but well used, and, as is the newspaper, all is in black and white. Except the characters. Here are people, in all their variety, each containing multitudes.

Leo McKern (who recalls that it was all made in an astonishing five weeks) is the newspaper's science correspondent and Edward Judd a reporter forever on the trail of stories while brooding on the divorce which means he rarely sees his son. Guest re-created the Express offices – and used the real-life staff member Arthur Christiansen to the play the Editor (as he does capably enough). Along the way Judd meets Janet Munro, a Government source, who also provides him with sultry distraction in her small flat and at the funfair in Battersea Park. Guest was always very good at making use of locations, and here all the more so as that tilt in the axis brings floods and cyclones while the Prime Minister intones from Downing Street – and, for a few seconds, a helmeted Michael Caine attempts to direct panicking drivers.

All of which means that it has as much contemporary relevance as it did in that period when Bertrand Russell addressed crowds in Trafalgar Square. With the climate emergency sending the planet out of kilter by other means, here is a drama as troubling, and involving, as ever. A gem which gleams from its sepia-toned opening and for the following ninety minutes.

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Monsoon

A Bargain-Basement Seabed

(Edit) 04/06/2021

Strange, the way the mind works. While watching Monsoon (1943) there came to mind Robert Ballard's book about his voyage in a submersible to look at the wreck of the Titanic. He remarked of a grand piano that it was now out of tune, which is a masterclass in understatement. The cost of Ballard's journey doubtless cost a sum which would boggle Edgar Ulmer. Born in Germany, where he worked with Billy Wilder on People on Sunday (1929), necessary exile brought him to Hollywood and a by-word for low-budget acumen, displayed so well in Détour and Ruthless.

Less well known is Monsoon, sometimes called – fittingly – Isle of Forgotten Sin. How to describe it? It opens, as dawn breaks, with the female owner of some premises tapping upon slatted doors, the other side of which slumber sultry women. They have to get up, a ship has docked and business is likely to be brisk.

Naturally, one wonders what this might entail. It emerges that downstairs is a casino, although as events unfold, that first suspicion of journeys upstairs are not dissolved.

And one has to question the competence of the carpenters who built those banisters. Fights break out, and the handrails collapse at the first grasp. Even at eighty minutes, the plot is convoluted, and can sometimes slow down things. Roughly speaking, two sailors are on the track of hidden treasure, and neither can trust the other, especially with others getting wind of its seabed location. All of which entails some of the casino's scantily-dressed women joining a voyage to the island where three-million in gold languishes offshore.

Those dresses survive a midnight swim to a cave, during which the soundtrack sports something which sounds as though Wagner had scored the cheesy opening music of The Simpsons.

There are enough slugfests in all this to ruin a lettuce patch. Nobody's passions are going to be turned upside-down, but it is very entertaining, with some surreal lines, such as the one in which a man comes round from being knocked out to exclaim, “well, I'm a horned toad!” And, when one of the women learns of the money at stake, she observes, “that's not hay!”

This film throve upon a hay diet.

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The Flame of New Orleans

Pass the Port

(Edit) 04/06/2021

The double is a familiar form in films – and Marlene Dietrich was given to guises several times in her work. Those shall not be revealed here but it gives away little of The Flame of New Orleans (1941) to say that this features another one. How well known is the film now? Written by the ever-adroit Norman Krasna, one of those who mysteriously attract the word professional as a near-insult, it is a diverting entertainment with many of those touches that distinguished René Clair (here in wartime exile).

In the middle of the nineteenth century Marlene Dietrich has arrived in town (with her wise maid Theresa Harris), and sings less than one could wish. She is a woman of mystery, necessarily so. She has plied her wooing ways elsewhere, and here is duly rewarded with a necklace by stolid banker Roland Young. Money can't buy him love, though, especially when Marlene hankers for impecunious Bruce Cabot, a man as rugged as the vessel he captains.

For which of these men will it be a case of the gal that got away?

Around this scenario are turned many scenes which culminate in a bravura barroom scene which contrasts with many high-born interiors (if so young a place really has old money). However small a part, each member of the cast plays it to the full (such as the matronly figures who tacitly inform Marlene about the rigours of the bedroom, to which she gives an eyebrow and twinkle unrivalled in film history).

Here is abundant fun.

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Station Six-Sahara

Pumping Irony

(Edit) 29/05/2021

In this era when so much is available and the chasing down of an old film does not involve several changes of 'bus to an outlying repertory house, how does one discover a film and decide to watch it?

Serendipity is a part of the process, fuelled by flicking through the contending guides. Leonard Maltin is dismissive of Station Six-Sahara (1962) and so there perhaps some might leave it, unseen; then again, the Radio Times guide enthuses, and so it proves that this is a film well worth watching.

Written by Bryan Forbes and Brian Clemens (perhaps best known for television series The Avengers) from a play by Jean Martel, it was directed by Seth Holt with much of the dramatic effect provided by cinematographer Gerald Gibbs. The shades of black and white make this desert outpost more sultry than colour perhaps would have done. The camera hones in repeatedly upon a ceiling fan while other machinery pumps up and down in what appears to be a staging post in the subterranean transmission of oil across the continent while radio contact is fitful.

In its time, the film was advertised with the erotically-charged Carroll Baker to the fore. In fact, she appears halfway through. By this time, the real attention and interest have been provided by the five men palpably going to seed in this outlandish setting, where monotony so inflames petty rivalries and jealousies that one of them offers to give Denholm Elliott a month's pay if he can choose and keep one of the many letters he receives each month.

This might sound preposterous as the mainspring of a plot, but it works, bringing so much with it, tension already heightened when Carroll Baker, literally, crashes into the place with a man badly injured in the offending automobile (“he's not a friend, he's my ex-husband”).

Anybody at the time who had sought out this too-little-known film by travelling across London and holding an umbrella against the wind-driven rain would not have regretted the expedition. To find oneself in this parched, malevolent location (in fact it was made in Shepperton) becomes all absorbing. The pause button is not needed.

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Raw Deal

A Hood and Hoods

(Edit) 11/05/2021

A prison escape is always risky. Life outside brings perils worse than the monotony of the cell. So Dennis O'Keefe finds in Raw Deal (1948). Written by Leopold Atlas and John Higgins, from a story by others, this strong script was bolstered by Anthony Mann's directing which, in turn, owed so much to the cinematography of John Alton: he, literally, brought out the best in a cast whose features glow and fade in scenes which range from automobiles to forests - and that essential part of almost any noir: a dubious night club.

The curved hood of the automobile which, variously pursued, is as much a star of all this as those within. Alongside O'Keefe are not only his erstwhile, dodgy girlfriend Claire Trevor but also a woman from the legal firm which is certain that he has been framed: Marsha Hunt. He is smitten with both, that is clear. All of which brings a further frisson – female lips' edge sparring – to a situation which has a towering Mr. Big, Raymond Burr, who is as determined to see off O'Keefe as the police, for he is unwilling to give the fugitive the $50,000 which he is owed for taking the rap.

That is, as it were, the sum of it, and one almost suspects that the film were made for less. No matter. Such privation had all those as much on their toes as those depeicted within. One scene flows into the next – and, as for the final ones, I am too much of a gentleman to say more. Treat yourself to a great night in.

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The Woman of Rumour

Hands Clasped

(Edit) 02/05/2021

It is a familiar story. A daughter is obliged to return to the family home after the break-up of a romance. Such is the case in Kenji Mizoguchi's A Woman of Rumour (1954).

What's more, though, the daughter (played by Yoshiko Kuba) had attempted suicide in Tokyo because her lover had ditched her after learning that her studies were funded by her mother (Kinuyo Tanaka) who... presides over a geisha premises in Kyoto.

For all the fine costumes, elaborate hair and ceremonial bows before the clientele, this amounts to a brothel. And, in her fraught state, the daughter is aghast at witnessing the spectacle of these deep-focus premises filmed in grey shades of black and white which somehow possess an inner colour. Further drama is provided not only by the daughter's growing appreciation of the women's need to avail themselves of this work but her shock at finding that her mother is in thrall to a visiting doctor (Tomoemon Otani) who duly augments his lust by hankering after both of them.

This is not to give away too much, for all becomes apparent a short way into a drama which makes the most of its ninety minutes. In a sense, the denizens of the geisha house realise that they are performing upon a stage, presenting a persona, part of an age-old ritual – as if the Bombs had not fallen upon the country some eight years earlier.

Melodrama, essentially, but with a heart which supplants the other, equally vital organs which we do not see, but in Leonard Cohen's phrase – new skin for the old ceremony – foment a film which startles and haunts us almost seventy years later.

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The Small Voice

Knotted Sheets

(Edit) 28/04/2021

A hostage drama always has a built-in advantage. Will they escape? That is, both the kidnappers and their victims. From a novel by Robert Westerby, whose work one feels a need to explore, The Small Voice (1948) finds Valerie Hobson unhappily married to James Donald who has become successful as a playwright with a knack for exploring the criminal mind. Even so, they are taken by surprise when offering a lift to some men who have had an accident at the roadside; these have escaped from Dartmoor and promptly lock the couple in the country house to which they had been returning.

What's more, the leader of the gang is none other than Howard Keel (billed under his real name of Harold). All this is directed by Fergus McDonell with a noir turn which generally surmounts the implausible, and much of its brio comes from the couple's redoutable housekeeper Joan Young (her Biblical diversion is a high point). And one cannot overlook a young brother and sister – Glyn Dearman and Angela Foulds – who, well-clipped accents and all, find themselves holed up there. Well worth seeing.

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Promising Young Woman

A Stiletto in the Back

(Edit) 22/04/2021

In recent weeks there has been as much publicity for Promising Young Woman as Blake Bailey's huge biography of Philip Roth. And in the past couple of days, the latter has taken a twist, its distribution halted by the publisher amidst allegations that the author is as prone to the forced seductions favoured by his subject.

Which is the very material of Emerald Fennell's first film. To have read or - scanned through – articles, one soon learnt that, in revenge for a friend being raped, Carey Mulligan exchanges a quiet daytime life behind a coffee bar for one of dressing provocatively and affecting drunkenness during a night on the town where she picks up men, and at the moment they are about to take the plunge, she reveals all (as it were): it is as though Philip Roth were kicked in the balls, even - one might infer - killed.

Having read of this, one might fear that the film itself could prove repetitive – one incident the same as another. The twist in all this is that it proves to be ingeniously varied. Without giving away too much, there is a moment when it appears about to mutate – happily ever after - into a romantic comedy.

The other surprise is that it turns out to be set in America, which makes sense: the country's turbulence is at the heart (if that's the word) of events here, although, of course, such self-styled lotharios populate the planet. It is a dark film, literally so, its colours, often red, suggest a well-nigh subterranean world of displaced morals: the work of cinematographer Benjamin Kracon while, for my taste, the music (the score by Anthony Willis and the use of songs by Britney Spears among others) is mixed rather too much to the fore of a story which is strong enough to carry itself.

Not only Carey Mulligan but many of the other women (of all ages) give terrific performances; by contrast, most of the men, such as potential boyfriend Bo Burnham, appear to have strayed from bachelor-party territory – then again, that is perhaps the point. For all its being rooted in terrible reality, it has appeared to some as unlikely; in fact, it should be regarded as Jacobean, a period when plays took many a savage turn while shifts in mood could include comedy (the Gravedigger being the most obvious). And in that spirit, five centuries on, Emerald Fennell worked swiftly, filming this in three weeks. As a début, it has the brio of Truffaut's one – and brings to mind one which nobody has mentioned: Richard Gere's. He was in the very good film made from Judith Rossner's brilliant novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), whose singles-bar terrain is the mirror-image of all this.

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Lost Horizon

A Magical Mountain

(Edit) 18/04/2021

How many authors create a word that takes on a life of its own, uttered at any given moment by somebody most likely with no idea of its origins? In 1933 the novelist James Hilton came up with Shangri-la for a remote, peace-loving enclave amidst Tibetan mountains, a place which few seek to leave and are rewarded with a long life.

Within four years this had become a film made in Hollywood and thereabouts by Frank Capra, a director noted for his technical skill and a relish of the inspirational. To come to this fresh is to marvel. A diplomat (Ronald Colman) is among half-a-dozen passengers aboard a small aeroplane, one of the last to leave a panicking crowd in war-torn China for Shanghai – except that, with dawn, the sun is in the wrong place, they are heading in the opposite direction while the gun-wielding pilot brooks no discussion as snowy mountains go by.

Come the inevitable crash and the pilot's death, the varied passengers, including a geologist, a fraudster and a prostitute with tuberculosis, set off, to be immediately greeted by a troop who had anticipated their arrival and been deputed to bring them back to stay in Shangri-la.

More than eight decades on, the settings make one gasp more than any computer-created pixels can do. Whiter than the surrounding snow, the building – Saltdean Lido writ large - opens upon huge, book-lined rooms, the work of two centuries, its humane magnificence down to a High Lama (Sam Jaffe) whose deputy is H.B. Warner who has something of the manner of an unfazed country parson.

All of which, when the outer world is turbulent, brings the question: should one leave? Each passenger has a different take upon this, especially Colman who had been due back in Whitehall and is likely to become Foreign Secretary. That is to reckon without somebody already there: the pretty Jane Wyatt whom he follows through meadows upon a horse, loses her – and finds her swimming in a lake (after we have seen her body double dive in naked, and it is well nigh a case of lust horizon.

Fantasy, of course, but to a purpose, all of it a debate upon the meaning of life made glorious by the abundance of film techniques whose effect is never overwrought. Since 1937, the film deteriorated into many mutilated reels, some stretches elusive. The recent restoration looks splendid, and comes with well-informed commentaries, especially upon such matters as the lighting and the building of sets.

Down the years, some have scoffed, as Graham Greene did at the time; others cannot fail to be charmed, and more.

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The Roots of Heaven

Rogue Human

(Edit) 19/04/2021

The same evening that I watched Lost Horizon, I had seen The Roots of Heaven (1958). The latter – despite being directed by John Houston with a notable cast – appears to have slipped from the collective film mind. If not the best work of any of those involved, it is more than a curiosity as, in contemporary French Equatorial Africa, Trevor Howard, with that matchless voice which can bring a moral to a phrase (The Third Man - passim), expresses similar concerns about mankind's fate to those of Ronald Colman in Shangri-la.

In particular, and presciently, Howard asserts at the outset that if human beings cannot care for other animals, our own look-out is in peril. The screen has opened with shots of elephants traversing the land, and his concern, with a petition, is to preserve these magnificent creatures from, well, shots by those who think it smart to wield a rifle.

He touts his sheets of paper around a bar which has not only sprung up in this remote territory but is staffed by none other than Juliette Gréco, whose outfits and lipstick are never besmirched by the events as she takes his side in this ecological push.

There is something to be written about the rôle of the bar in outlandish places. It brings together diverse people amidst social and political dispute. Among those with an interest in opposing or supporting Howard for their own sakes are an ever-sinister Herbert Lom and, in his last film, Errol Flynn. Their appearances, however, are as brief as that by Orson Welles, who brings a surprisingly camp turn – bouffant hair and all – to his part as an American television broadcaster. Such exception is taken to him that, in revenge, he is blasted in the buttocks by a rifle, an act which he takes in good part while the offending items are retrieved while he is prone upon a bench; what's more, back in America, he publicises his support of Howard's cause in front of the nation (and, afterwards, rises from a chair which has also contained an inflatable cushion).

All of which is to say that this is an unusual film, and such farce is not typical of it – nor is the scene at a clubhouse redolent of Empire where unseen buttocks are again to the fore, as invaders seize upon a formidable matron and remove her drawers to administer twelve firm slaps as punishment for her gloating murder of an elephant. It is all as if Bunuel had an uncredited part in proceedings.

The film derives from a novel written a couple of years earlier by Romain Gary who worked on the screenplay with the help of Patrick Leigh-Fermor (difficult to believe that elegant writer came up with the inflatable cushion). As with so many involved in this film about tangled lives, their own took various bruises: Gary later married Jean Seberg, whose death in a parked automobile he insisted was not probable suicide but an FBI killing, a persistent thought which contributed to his killing himself a few years later – by gunshot.

The great survivor was Juliette Gréco, dead last year. Those of us who relish her singing have to be content here with a few hummed bars (as it were).

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A Rainy Day in New York

Another Angle on Interiors

(Edit) 16/04/2021

The gags do not fly at the earlier rate but the jackets still look like a Ralph Lauren number upon Timothée Chalamet whose voiceover has similar intonations to those delivered in the past by Woody Allen himself. After Allen's long sojourn in Europe, with so many films which looked beholden to local tourist boards, the setting is Manhattan – but it, too, feels as if no longer a place from which creative energy springs, and perhaps that reflects the past two decades' change, one which has made it the preserve of the rich.

Well-heeled characters, funded by banking families, are to the fore. Not only Chalamet, a disenchanted student at an upstate college but his often-gauche girlfriend Elle Fanning who has just had her request accepted for an interview in a student paper with a neurotic, designer-bearded film director played by Liev Schriber whose latest work features an elegant hunk (Diego Luna). One can anticipate the entanglements as the rain pours as the young couple arrive at the Pierre (paid for by Chalamet's recent poker winnings) and plans to visit the familiar array of city nightspots such as Bemelman's Bar while the rain pours throughout.

Plots have never been Woody Allen's strong point; the films are a series of scenes, helped along by notable cinematographers (here, the work of Vitorrio Storaro brings out the interiors' many dark-hued tones which so often make one feel as is stepping from a hustling sidewalkinto a baronial hall). It could be tighter but there is much to enjoy, especially if one has a soft spot for romantic comedy which is here given an edge by Selena Gomez as the sister of Chalamet's earlier girlfriend and Cherry Jones as his mother.

Naturally one looked with curiosity at the credits to be reassured that no water was damaged in this making of this film. Gallons of it must have drained the budget while being sprayed from a series of tanker trucks (real rain, never there when you want it, does not film well). Meanwhile, in a sunnier setting, Woody Allen has returned to Spain for Rifkin's Festival, set at a film festival, where events are interrupted by a director screening in his mind re-makes of celebrated scenes by others. This could be a promising return to Allen's magical turns, such as The Purple Rose of Cairo. We should all be working at such a rate with ninety on the horizon.

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Deception

A Suite for Cello, Piano - and a Triangle

(Edit) 09/04/2021

What is it about classical music that brings out the enjoyably preposterous in Hollywood? One might think of John Garfield's beachside violin playing in Humoresque, but even that is restraint beside Deception (1946). Directed by Irving Rapper who, dying in 1999 at almost 102, lived long enough to find – one likes to think - his name the butt of many a musical joke far from the concert halls of this movie. It opens with Paul Henreid playing Haydn's cello concerto to acclaim in post-war America. Among the smartly-dressed audience is pianist Bette Davis, who thought that he, her lover, had died in the war. They are re-united with such passion that they decide to marry the next day. This brings a new turn to the notion that the cello is the musical equivalent of the human heartbeat.

All of which would be wonderful but for the fact that her lavish apartment, view and all, has been funded by the conductor and genius composer Hollenious (Claude Rains). Cat-stroking Rains, his hair distinctly bouffant, is outraged by this turn to events, his performance – jealousy incarnate – so much the higher camp that it is well nigh the last staging-post before the summit of Everest.

Especially when he finds that Henreid is the necessary cellist for his latest masterpiece (a work created by Korngold, who himself had fled Germany). Rapper, who had worked with all three of them on Now, Voyager, plays the situation – from a play by Louis Verneuil – for all it's (its?) worth, never shying from dramatic montage which plys close to noir inside and out as the torrid comes to the fore.

Hokum, of course, but brilliantly done, so much so that one might call it the thinking man's Amadeus.

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