WOMAN OF STRAW (1964)

Sean Connery is celebrating his 81st birthday today so I thought it would be a great time to share my appreciation for his terrific performance in Basil Dearden’s entertaining thriller, WOMAN OF STRAW (1964). The handsome Scottish actor with a deep gravelly voice and piercing dark eyes has appeared in more than 65 films during his long career but WOMAN OF STRAW is one of … Continue reading WOMAN OF STRAW (1964)

Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

A beautiful young woman named Sapphire (Yvonne Buckingham) has been murdered. Her bloodied corpse was found in London’s Hampstead Heath park. A seasoned detective (Nigel Patrick) and his young partner (Michael Craig) are called on to investigate the case but as they try to piece together the puzzle of this post-war whodunit the mystery only deepens. Behind her tweed skirts and pale complexion, Sapphire was … Continue reading Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

On Sunday many will be glued to their television sets watching the annual Oscar ceremony unfold. At this time of year I tend to contemplate all the new releases I’ve seen in the past 12 months and linger over the films that have captured my imagination, awed me, inspired me, or just made me think about old ideas and tired truths in new ways. When … Continue reading THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

The League of Gentlemen (1960) contains one of my favorite moments from postwar British cinema; a group of ex-soldiers carrying submachine guns plow through London’s narrow streets with their faces concealed behind gas masks. Instead of dodging an attack they are preparing to rob a bank and their military uniforms have been replaced by civilian clothing. These masked figures are the stuff of nightmares and … Continue reading EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

ELISABETH LUTYENS: THE HORROR QUEEN OF FILM COMPOSERS

Female film composers are a rarity but there are some wonderful examples of talented women working behind the scenes who managed to flourish under the tight deadlines imposed by film studios while creating memorable music for the movies. One of my favorite female composers is the late Elisabeth Lutyens who was born on July 9th in 1906. On the occasion of what would have been … Continue reading ELISABETH LUTYENS: THE HORROR QUEEN OF FILM COMPOSERS

EMBRACING AMBIGUITY: FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE (1970)

[Warning! There are spoilers on the road ahead.] The first thing that you see in Joseph Losey’s FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE (1970) is the big black helicopter. It lingers in the sky like a giant buzzing insect or an angry bird of prey. For the next two hours, it will pursue the film’s two protagonists (Robert Shaw and Malcolm McDowell) in a relentless game of cat … Continue reading EMBRACING AMBIGUITY: FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE (1970)

LOSEY LET LOOSE: THE CRIMINAL (1960)

While looking through the collection of Joseph Losey films currently available to stream on FilmStruck I was inspired to revisit The Criminal a.k.a. Concrete Jungle (1960), a low-budget British crime thriller about an underworld kingpin named Johnny Bannion (Stanley Baker) who organizes a high-stakes robbery that goes terribly wrong. When he finds himself behind bars a second time, Bannion has to rely on his brawn, … Continue reading LOSEY LET LOOSE: THE CRIMINAL (1960)

Discussing THE DEVILS (1971) with Kevin Flanagan

Kevin M. Flanagan received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 in English/Film studies (his dissertation: The British War Film, 1939-1980: Culture, History, and, Genre). A book based on this project is under contract with Palgrave (part of the Britain and the World series). Flanagan is also the editor of 2009’s Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England’s Last Mannerist and he contributed essays and an audio commentary to the … Continue reading Discussing THE DEVILS (1971) with Kevin Flanagan

It’s Lovecraft Season!

Like many horror aficionados, I enjoy reading horror fiction as well as watching horror movies. And as summer makes way for autumn I’ve been indulging in a bit of both. Much like my fellow Morlock Richard Harland Smith, I eagerly await this time of year. It gives me an excuse to spend my free time focused on all things spooky and scary so that’s what I … Continue reading It’s Lovecraft Season!

Introducing Laurence Harvey: House of Darkness (1948)

A few weeks ago I wrote about Anthony Mann’s last film (A Dandy in Aspic) featuring Laurence Harvey in one of his best roles. At the time I expressed how much I liked Harvey even though many critics are quick to dismiss him. His reputation has been badly tarnished over the years thanks to shoddy journalism that often focuses on his run-ins with other actors … Continue reading Introducing Laurence Harvey: House of Darkness (1948)