Black Orpheus - 1959
Black Orpheus - Released December 21, 1959. Directed by Marcel Camus
It's Carnaval time in Brazil, but with the tragedy of Orfeo and Eurydice (she dies and he tries to get her back from the underworld) told as the two lovers are separated and reunited, with a propulsive Bossa Nova soundtrack.
Who Done It?- 1942
Who Done It? - Released November 6, 1942. Directed by Erie C.Kenton
Jean Harlow - 1933
Bombshell - Released October 13, 1933. Directed by Victor Fleming
The Black Book - 1949
The Black Book - Released October 15, 1949. Directed by Anthony Mann
Also known as The Reign of Terror, this 89 minute film is a taunt action-historical drama about the intrigue around French Revolution leader Robespierre, and especially about a 'black book' in which he keeps lists of the names of people who he counts as "for" the revolution and "against" the revolution, and being 'against' is a one way ticket to the guillotine. Incidentally, Robespierre seems confused about whether he himself is the personification of the Revolution or an actual human being, as anyone with the slightest opposition to him is immediately branded a traitor "to the revolution."
Director Anthony Mann populates Paris with shadows and boxed-in rooms where people move in the darkness trying to survive the collapse of political and popular sanity, or to just come out on top amid the political maneuvering. Clever camera work and a tight script make this film a demi-noir/historical film of the first calibre.
The cast is very good. Robert Cummings plays indignation well (and has plenty of opportunities to show it as events unfold). Arlene Dahl as a seemingly two-faced woman playing both sides against the middle is actually about as pure a hero as we can get in this tale. Richard Basehart presents Robespierre as nuts, though it is presented as cooly and seriously as possible (in a scene where a woman is pleading for the life of her husband and appeals to God, Robespierre jealously responds "the Revolution abolished God, now there is only the will of the people!" And based on how Mann presents the Comintern of France, the will of the people is to murder as many people as possible).
The best thing of all in the cast of The Black Book is probably Arnold Moss as the frequently-smiling, humor-tinged, but deadly-as-a-snake chief of secret police, Fouche, who, besides carrying out his duties as co-executioner with Robespierre, is seriously concerned his name might be the in the "Black Book" too.
Unfortunately, it appears at present only beaten-up copies of the film print are in circulation, including an edited and chopped up version which circulates as a free download around the internet.
The Viking Queen - 1967
The Viking Queen - released March 25, 1967. Directed by Dan Chaffey
"They can handle their chariots, I'll say that for these Britons"
Hammer Films does for Britain-Roman history what was more or less the "scene" in 1967 London between the Mods, Hippies and the Establishment: tension and misunderstandings. The beautiful Finnish model Carita stars as the mixed-blood Viking/British Queen who battles the Roman occupation, but in between has fallen in love with the Roman leader (Don Murray). Druids and Romans don't mix well in this sometimes historical epic, sometimes schlocky exploitation film from the horror film studio known for ace costuming and art direction (plenty here in The Viking Queen), but the script doesn't always live up to director Chaffey's inventive effortsto overcome a limited budget.
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