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Starring: Pia Degermark, Thommy Berggren, Lennart Malmer, Cleo Jensen

Elvira Madigan

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In Brief: If you were around in 1967 when it first appeared, you’ll possibly remember that Bo Widerberg’s Elvira Madigan was not only something of a hit (in art-film terms anyway), but that it caused a positive mania for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. If the former can be understood, then the latter falls into place,…
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Starring: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer

White Zombie

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In Brief: Victor Halperin’s White Zombie is a film outside the realm of normal filmmaking. It was odd in 1932, with reviewers at odds over whether it was some kind of art film or a horror film — and in both cases either loving it or absolutely hating it. Most independent productions of its era are pretty terrible.…
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Starring: Paul Wegener, Albert Steinruck, Lyda Salmonova, Ernst Deutsch, Hans Sturm, Otto Gebühr, Lothar Müthel

The Golem

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In Brief: There’s a certain amount of confusion about The Golem made by Paul Wegener (who also plays the creature) and Carl Boese in Germany in 1920. It is neither Wegener’s 1915 version (considered lost), nor is it a remake of that film. It is its own beast — a story detailing the creation of the Golem by…
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Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, James Gregory

The Manchurian Candidate

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In Brief: If it weren’t for some tepid and not very believable action scenes with Frank Sinatra, John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962) might just be the best political thriller ever made. Even with those reservations, this story about communist brainwashing of Korean War soldiers going hand-in-hand with homegrown U.S. perfidy is heady stuff. It must…
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Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman

The Gold Rush

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In Brief: The Gold Rush marked Chaplin’s first Charlie Chaplin film to be released by his own company, United Artists, and was his most ambitious project to date (1925). And it remained one of his personal favorites. He went so far as to recut, score and narrate a reissue version in 1942. Today, it battles City Lights and Modern Times for…
"Atonement" wins Golden Globe Award as best drama motion pictures in Beverly Hills
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Atonement

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In Brief: When Joe Wright’s sophomore effort Atonement hit Cannes, words like “masterpiece” and phrases like “an instant classic” (what does that mean? add water and stir?) came tumbling forth like oranges from a faulty sack. Being something of a skeptic — and always wary of high-toned dramas that smack of Merchant-Ivory or Masterpiece Theatre —…
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Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, Hippolyte Girardot, Margarita Lozano

Manon of the Spring

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In Brief: Manon of the Spring (1986) is the sequel — or more properly, second part — of Jean de Florette (1986), which the Hendersonville Film Society showed last week. In essence, this film tells the rest of the story — what happens after Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) dies. The film takes place 10 years later with Jean’s…
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Starring: Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, El Brendel, Roscoe Karns, Gary Cooper

Wings

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In Brief: William A. Wellman's Wings (1927) won the very first Oscar for best picture — and unlike many Oscar winners since then, it was a deserved honor. It's also one of those rare Oscar winners that holds up to this day. First of all, it's truly an epic, but it's an epic grounded in…
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Starring: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil, Elisabeth Depardieu

Jean de Florette

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In Brief: Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette (1986) — adapted by Berri and longtime Roman Polanski collaborator Gérard Brach from Marcel Pagnol’s novel (itself drawn from Pagnol’s 1953 film Manon of the Spring) — is really only half a film, since it is meant to be followed by Berri’s Manon of the Spring. Worry not, however, because the Hendersonville Film…
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Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alan Webb

The Taming of the Shrew

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In Brief: Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967) wasn’t the first time this Shakespeare play was served up with a famous married couple in the lead roles. No, that honor goes to Sam Taylor’s 1929 version starring Hollywood royalty of that era, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. (And whether or not the main…
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Starring: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michelle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault

M. Hulot’s Holiday

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In Brief: As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that I faced seeing M. Hulot’s Holiday (from…
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Starring: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, Lionel Stander, May Robson, Andy Devine

A Star is Born

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In Brief: With all due respect to George Cukor’s 1954 version — and a somewhat grim nod to Frank Pierson’s rock-star variant from 1976 — William A. Wellman’s original 1937 A Star Is Born is the essential Hollywood cautionary tale. It may owe something to Cukor’s 1932 film What Price Hollywood?, but it’s really its own animal. Changing the…
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Starring: Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June, Malcolm Keen

The Lodger

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In Brief: Fresh from his stint in the German film industry, Alfred Hitchcock gave the British movie world a well-needed shot in the arm with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) starring the immensely popular Ivor Novello. In so doing, he also gave the world its very first movie that feels like what…
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Starring: Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker

The Lady Vanishes

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In Brief: The Lady Vanishes (1938) is not only one of Hitchcock’s best and most completely entertaining films, but it’s the film that launched Hitch on his Hollywood career. Hollywood had taken notice of him with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935), but it was The Lady Vanishes that…
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Atonement

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In Brief: When Joe Wright’s sophomore effort Atonement hit Cannes, words like “masterpiece” and phrases like “an instant classic” (what does that mean? add water and stir?) came tumbling forth like oranges from a faulty sack. Being something of a skeptic — and always wary of high-toned dramas that smack of Merchant-Ivory or Masterpiece Theatre —…
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Starring: Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Saddam Hossein Feysal, Hiresh Feysal Rahman

Turtles Can Fly

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In Brief: When Turtles Can Fly (2004) first showed here, I wrote: The first thing you notice about Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi’s Turtles Can Fly is how much more technically accomplished it is than most films we see from this part of the world. The colors are bright and vivid, the images are sharp and…
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Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Isao Kimura

High and Low

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In Brief: For his 1963 suspense film High and Low, Akira Kurosawa seems to have been actually trying to draw the wrath of those who find his work too “Western” by choosing the Ed McBain novel King’s Ransom for his source material. What could possibly be more Western — indeed, more downright American — than a…
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Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig

Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told

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In Brief: Despite its full title, Spider Baby (1968) probably isn't the maddest story ever told, but it's in the running — at least as schlock exploitation film is concerned. Enjoyably trashy and occasionally downright amateurish, it's the fairly silly story of a house full of folks suffering from some inexplicable form of mental degeneration that turns…
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Starring: Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michèle Mercier, Serge Davri

Shoot the Piano Player

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In Brief: François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) is one of those celebrated films that I had somehow just never seen till this weekend. Oh, I’d seen clips and knew a little about it — and I’d suspected that the phony gangster-movie opening of Ken Russell’s 1966 TV film on composer Georges Delerue, Don’t…
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Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman

Nothing Sacred

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In Brief: William A. Wellman’s very aptly titled Nothing Sacred (1937) begins with a series of titles informing us, “This is New York, skyscraper champion of world, where the slickers and know-it-alls peddle gold bricks to each other, and where truth, crushed to earth, rises again more phony than a glass eye.” That effectively captures the…
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Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alan Webb

The Taming of the Shrew

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In Brief: Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967) wasn’t the first time this Shakespeare play was served up with a famous married couple in the lead roles. No, that honor goes to Sam Taylor’s 1929 version starring Hollywood royalty of that era, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. (And whether or not the main title really…