Site Under Reconstruction

1944

[3] In an abstract void of color gradation, it’s Donald Duck’s birthday. He magically receives three strange presents that transform into song-and-dance lessons about Mexico and South America, featuring two other cartoon birds named José Carioca (a parrot) and Panchito (a rooster). A five-year old might be entranced by the bright Technicolor imagery and lively music featured in The Three Caballeros, but the frenetic pace …

[8] Chameleon master craftsman Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) staked a name for himself and elevated low-budget film noir to new levels of respectability with his Hitchcockian suspense yarn Double Indemnity. The film, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, stars Fred MacMurray as an L.A. insurance salesman who conspires with an unhappy housewife, played by Barbara Stanwyck, to collect a massive insurance payout …

[7] 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] Cary Grant plays a wandering Londoner who’s reluctant to settle down. This changes when he discovers his mother, played by Ethel Barrymore, has terminal cancer. Poverty and loneliness drive Grant and Barrymore to desperate measures, and just when you think things can’t get any gloomier, the film ends with foreshadowing of the second world war. None But the Lonely Heart is a dark film, …

[7] Ingrid Bergman won the first of her three Oscars for this psychological thriller from George Cukor. Bergman plays a woman increasingly traumatized by her husband, a thief who nearly succeeds in convincing her that she’s losing her mind. It’s easy to invest in a movie when someone’s being mean to Ingrid Bergman. I only wish that she were more empowered in the story’s third …

[5] Bette Davis stars as a woman who marries a banker (Claude Rains) to protect her brother from embezzlement charges. Claude Rains’ character knows full well that she’s marrying him for his money, but hopes that in time she’ll grow to love him. Well… she doesn’t. Bette Davis is a cold-hearted bitch in this movie, so all your sympathy goes to the long-suffering Rains, whose …

[9] 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 …