1940’s

[6.5] Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M) directs this adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about a British man (Ray Milland) recently released from an insane asylum who gets caught up in a Nazi attempt to smuggle sensitive information out of England during World War II. Lang brings a lot of style and paranoia to the film, particularly in two strong opening sequences. The first begets a mystery …

[6.0] Virginia Bruce, John Barrymore, and John Howard star in this second, decidedly more comic installment of what would become Universal’s Invisible Man franchise. Howard plays a rich playboy looking to settle down with the right woman, while Barrymore plays the inventor who lives next door, benefiting from Howard’s financial generosity. When he’s ready for a test subject in his invisibility experiment, Barrymore puts an …

[7.0] Maltese Falcon cast mates Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet reunite with director John Huston for this wartime espionage flick. Bogart plays a dishonorably discharged army captain who catches passage on a Japanese steamboat headed for the Panama Canal. While on board, Bogey strikes up interesting and entertaining relationships with two other passengers played by Astor and Greenstreet. None of the characters seem …

[6.0] In this courtroom drama ripped from the headlines, Arthur Kennedy plays a nervous out-of-towner who is identified by witnesses as the killer of a beloved local priest. When the whole town unties in his condemnation, it’s up to Dana Andrews, as the district attorney, to prove Kennedy’s innocence at the peril of his political career. For an Elia Kazan (East of Eden, Splendor in …

[6.5] Maestro Billy Wilder directs Ray Milland as a drunk writer circling the drain in the multi-Oscar-winning The Lost Weekend. Milland’s character is supposed to begin recovery on a long holiday weekend with his brother (Phillip Terry) and gal pal (Jane Wyman), but after he steals money to spend at his favorite bar, he gets drunk and misses their departure time. Things get progressively worse …

[9.0] Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made their first pairing in this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel about an American boatman (Bogart) who reluctantly sticks his neck out for the French Resistance in World War II Martinique. Along the way he falls in love with a sultry young singer (Bacall) and risks more lives than his own when he agrees to give a pair of …

[6.0] You only get to see his face in the film’s final moments, but Vincent Price otherwise stars as this sequel’s titular character. The film has loose narrative ties to James Whale’s 1933 classic, and is as much a remake as a sequel in its execution. Both films center around a man whose taken an invisibility potion that gradually drives him insane. Whale’s take is …

[6.5] Writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) won his first two Academy Awards for writing and directing this drama about three wives who reflect on their marriages when they learn a fourth woman has just left town with one of their husbands. Mankiewicz can always be relied upon for great dialogue and pitch-perfect casting. All six principles (the fourth …

[7.5] Bette Davis stars as Charlotte Vale, a nervous young woman whose emotionally abusive mother (Gladys Cooper) causes her to submit herself to a sanitarium. Under the care of her doctor (Claude Rains), Charlotte begins to gain the confidence to stand up for herself and appreciate her self worth. On an ocean-liner cruise she meets a man named Jerry (Casablanca‘s Paul Henreid) and falls in …

[7.0] Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reteam in Mervyn LeRoy’s biopic of Madame Curie. Garson plays the title character, Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to ever win two of them. This film version of her life story splits its focus between her private life with husband Pierre Curie (Pidgeon) and their joint discovery of radium. Madame …

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