Film Four & Film Four +1 09-06-08.
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(1946) Vincent Price in his first leading part as Nicholas van Ryn, the sinister master of the 19th-century mansion on the Hudson river.A young girl is invited to stay at a stately home only to discover that the owners are far from perfect hosts. Gothic thriller starring Gene Tierney, Walter Huston and Vincent Price, and written and directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz
For all the young filmmakers hoping to be the next Hitchcock or Scorsese, it's surprising there aren't more people in the world hoping to emulate the success of writer-producer-director Joseph L Mankiewicz. A man who won four Oscars in just two short years (and was nominated for a further six), Mankiewicz's list of important films features such genuine classics as All About Eve, The Ghost And Mrs Muir and Julius Caesar. 'Mank' also had the distinction of directing 12 actors to Academy Award nominations, the far-from-dirty dozen including Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. And while he might have made the calamitous Cleopatra, the fact he closed out his career directing Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier in the sublime Sleuth must have provided sufficient consolation.
Mankiewicz's success is even more incredible when you remember that he only directed 22 films. Of these, few are as much fun as Dragonwyck, a superb haunted house movie featuring great work from Gene Tierney and Vincent Price.
As young Miranda Wells, Tierney finds herself dispatched to the Van Ryn family's Dragonwyck estate. What intially sounds like an exciting assignation soon turns scary as Miranda discovers that the Van Ryns are no strangers to insanity. And in the kingdom of the mad, few are quite as hatstand as Nicholas Van Ryn (Price), the young master of the house who is clearly up to no good in the darkest reaches of Dragonwyck.
Leave Her to Heaven
(1945) Riveting film noir melodrama starring Gene Tierney as an irredeemably evil, possessive woman who resorts to murder.A young couple are slowly torn apart by jealousy. Noir thriller starring Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde
With a name like Leave Her To Heaven, John Stahl's movie could only be a film noir. Adapted from the book by top thriller writer Ben Ames Williams, the picture is in fact a fine example of the form with top performances from genre stalwarts Gene Tierney (Night And The City) and Cornel Wilde (The Big Combo). Tierney and Wilde are Richard and Ellen, a young couple who marry after a chance meeting on a train. For a while all is wonderful, but then Richard's family fall victim to a string of tragedies. At first it seems as if fate alone is responsible for the misfortune. Richard, though, fears that the death of his brother and his unborn child might have less to do with destiny than Ellen's insane jealousy.
(1958) Daft but wonderful 1950s sci-fi fable about a scientist whose tinkering with the laws of nature lead to a terrible result - he gains a fly's head.Daft but wonderful 1950s sci-fi fable about a scientist whose tinkering with the laws of nature lead to a terrible result - he gains a fly's head
The Fly Despite one of the silliest concepts in horror cinema - Price admitted being unable to keep a straight face during filming - there is something irresistable about this tale of a man who swaps heads with a housefly. Andre Delambre (Hedison) is a scientist in that wonderful 1950s mould - he's a genius tinkering with atomics, but he's also a domestic sort of chap. His invention of a machine that can transport matter - a teleporter basically - is the source of the troubles. To prove that it works, he tries it on himself. Whoops, suddenly Andre's got a fly's head and leg, while a poor housefly is sporting Andre's head and a human arm. Wife Helene (Owens) and brother FranÃ§ois (Price) are of course powerless to help. Andre has learned the hard way the perils of trying to bend the laws of nature too far.
From the grisly opening (the fly-man coerces his Helene into helping him to commit suicide in a hydraulic press) to the spider's web finale ("Help meeeeeeee! Please help meeeeeeeeee!"), the film is overcooked to the point of hysteria. Yet the unmasking of the fly at the end is the most effective scene of its kind since The Phantom of the Opera in 1925.
(2001) Casino magnate John Cleese pits a bunch of ordinary Joes against each other in a race to win $2m.Hollywood revisits the zany chase comedy in this frantically funny, endlessly inventive old-fashioned gag-fest. Casino magnate John Cleese pits a bunch of ordinary Joes against each other in a race to win $2m
Rat Race Yuppies, lottery dolts and corporate raiders take heart, Rat Race finally proves that greed is good - good for a laugh, that is. Director Zucker showed plenty of comic nous with Airplane! and further demonstrates his gift for broad, knowing, loony humour here. Returning to that long-neglected sub-genre, the chase comedy, he harnesses the comic talent of John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg and, er, Cuba Gooding Jr to shake up a stupid, yet sophisticated, cocktail of slapstick, surrealism, gross-out and Hitler jokes.
Las Vegas casino magnate Donald Sinclair (Cleese), selects nine ordinary 'low rollers' at random by putting special gold coins into his slot machines and sets them scuttling across America in pursuit of loot. It's simple: the first person to reach the locker at Silver City train station, New Mexico, gets to keep the $2m deposited there. He does it so a cabal of compulsive high rollers can follow their progress from the comfort of the casino, wagering vast sums at every turn.
(1985) Harrison Ford is the hard-boiled police detective guarding an Amish mother and her young son, who witnessed a murder.A cop flees to an Amish community in Pennsylvania to protect a key witness in a police corruption case. Harrison Ford stars in Peter Weir's first Hollywood film
After his international hit The Year Of Living Dangerously, Peter Weir, the Australian director who'd achieved cult status with The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) and Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), went to work in America. His first two films for Hollywood both starred Harrison Ford, then at the height of his fame as an action hero. Both 1985's Witness and 1986's The Mosquito Coast gave the former carpenter and TV actor a chance to flex his acting chops with roles that didn't involve blasters or bullwhips.
In Witness, Ford plays John Book, a detective and captain with the Philadelphia police. He gets involved with a case involving an Amish boy, Samuel Lapp (Haas), the witness of the title. Samuel's father has recently died and after the funeral his mother Rachel (McGillis) decides to visit her sister in Baltimore. However, while in a toilet stall, Samuels sees two men slit the throat of a third. Book and his partner Elden Carter (Jennings) are assigned to the case. After one unsuccessful hunch, Book has Samuel look at mugshots; the boy is able to identify the killer. It's a cop, Lieutenant James McFee (Glover). Book goes to his chief, Schaeffer (Sommer) to report his findings, entirely unaware that he too is corrupt.
When Book is ambushed by McFee and badly injured, he realises the corruption runs deep. Not knowing where to turn among his colleagues, he flees with Rachel and Samuel to their Amish homelands in rural Pennsylvania. There, he's nursed back to health.
If the film started out as a crime thriller, it now opens out into something more as Book, a man ground down by the urban ferment, is faced with an entirely different world centred around the more basic values of work and worship.
(2005) Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy stars Orlando Bloom as Drew Baylor, a shoe designer who has just cost his company $972 million.
After losing his job, shoe designer Drew Baylor contemplates suicide. Then his life changes when he meets an optimistic airline attendant. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst star in a film written and directed by Cameron Crowe
Elizabethtown Cameron Crowe has never been the most disciplined of directors. Well known for being unable to let go of his projects, his Oscar-winning Almost Famous (2000) spawned a DVD 'Bootleg Cut' that ran over two-and-a-half hours long. His latest, the wistful romantic comedy Elizabethtown, had 12 minutes pruned from it after a tour of the autumn film festival circuit. Sadly, it's not enough; like life in the eponymous Kentucky town, Crowe's film is amiable enough but slow-paced. A tribute, in part, to his late father, it's also very indulgent and rather hollow at its core. The film begins as hotshot shoe designer Drew Baylor (Bloom) takes an almighty tumble. For the past eight years, he was been working on the oddly-named trainer, the Spasmodica, for the ultra-successful Oregon-based company Mercury Shoes (a thinly disguised take on Nike, located in the same area).
As his boss (Baldwin) informs him, the Spasmodica is a flawed design that's about to lose the company $972 million and "may cause an entire generation to return to bare feet". Quite why - or indeed how - a shoe can lose almost $1 billion we never find out. Either way, Drew loses his job, and considers suicide, saved only by the discovery that his father has just died. Instructed by his mother, Hollie (Sarandon), to head to Elizabethtown to arrange the funeral, the maudlin Drew makes for the airport where he meets Claire Colburn (Dunst), a chirpy airline attendant who bumps him up to first class and gives him her number.
(1989) A kickboxing slacker falls for the smartest girl in school the summer before she leaves for university.
A kickboxing slacker falls for the smartest girl in school the summer before she leaves for university. Romantic drama starring John Cusack, Ione Skye and John Mahoney, written and directed by Cameron Crowe
Say Anything The movie business has few better ideas men than James L Brooks. Executive producer on 'The Simpsons' and the force behind hit movies like As Good As It Gets and Broadcast News, we have Brooks to thank for the very excellent Say Anything... He was inspired by seeing a man and his daughter walking hand-in-hand at the mall; he thought there was an interesting story to tell about what would happen if the father committed a crime. The task of transforming this seed of an idea into a screenplay fell to former 'Rolling Stone' journalist Cameron Crowe. Now best known for winning an Oscar for Almost Famous and for stuffing up Vanilla Sky, Crowe was well-qualified to tackle a teen movie, having gone undercover at his former school for the magazine article that would become Fast Times At Ridgemont High. But while the characters in that movie were amusing stereotypes, in Say Anything... Crowe - in collaboration with the greatest young actor of the time, John Cusack - created one of the most realistic teens in cinema, the marvelously monikered Lloyd Dobler.