Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 in the 30s

Dead End - William Wyler - Class disparity is one of the richest veins to mine for crime fiction and this look at a New York City neighborhood full of glitzy penthouses and street level grime is a great example of why. Humphrey Bogart's mug is featured on the poster, but it's the Dead End Kids who are the real heart of the picture.

Fury - Fritz Lang - Between this one and M Lang sure seemed interested in mobs and the court of popular opinion. This time it's about an innocent man who narrowly escapes a lynch mob, but who is turned into a bent, revenge-seeking grotesque by the experience.

M - Fritz Lang - Peter Lorre is the child-murdering monster whose hobby has a German city in a constant state of unease. The police are under mounting pressure to catch the killer, but it's the organized criminal element who really make the difference. Unconstrained by legalities they produce results in the interest of returning the status-quo and an undisturbed atmosphere to continue making money. Stylish as hell, atmospheric and thematically rich, it doesn't get much better than this.
Roaring Twenties - Raoul Walsh - Three American soldiers share a foxhole on the eve of WWI armistice find their fates intertwined years later back home. An epic gangster flick spanning more than a decade depicting a wild chapter in the life of the country.

Spy in Black - Michael Powell - For a WWI espionage thriller about a German spy in Britain made by British film makers during WWII it's a remarkably guile-less effort from the ever-charming Powell (and Emeric Pressburger who wrote the script), but it doesn't ever really thrill. Powell and Pressburger would go on to better collaborations.

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