Movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1945.
1. The Lost Weekend, directed by Billy Wilder (10/10)
This is a standout given the era. Most Hollywood films from this time were not interested in anything like real life. That is what is so remarkable about this movie. It is mostly depressing and fairly realistic. One wonders what happened to the studio execs. There are issues but they are insignificant given the sheer importance of this landmark. The biggest is how sometimes Milland sounds like he is speaking his inner thoughts. Maybe the writer did this while drinking (maybe I do?) but I haven’t run into too many people who voice these well-composed narratives about the nature of their alcoholism. That stuff would have worked better as voice-over. But I’m being nitpicky.
1. Rome, Open City, directed by Roberto Rossellini (10/10)
Though the French movies from this era are a little more subtle in dealing with the menace of Nazi Germany, this is still effective and affecting. It’s silly for me to criticize moral indignation against the Germans from 1945. What could be a more believable story for a little less righteousness is still compelling and tense. The one issue is indeed the print. But it happens sometimes, and that’s hardly a reason to condemn the film.
3. The Children of Paradise, directed by Marcel Carne (9/10)
I don’t know what I did with the review, if I wrote one. Unique, if I remember it correctly.
4. Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean (9/10)
Lean handles romance here about as well as anyone. Rarely have I been so affected but was able still to marvel at the subtlety. Great.
5. Detour, directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (9/10)
Until a few films stole the throne in the late ’40s, this was the ultimate low budget ’40s noir. Yes, it was made for very little money, but the constraints actually forced the crew to make a better – more daring, more interesting – movie. One of the essential noirs of the era.
6. Spellbound, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (8/10)
Watched in my Hitchcock phase. May watch again soon with the wife. If I do, I will update this.
7. The Spiral Staircase, directed by Robert Siodmak (7/10)
This is more fascinating to look at than to watch. There are lots of neat shots (and a few corny ones) and lots of wonderful shadows. But something is missing: we don’t really care for the characters like we should. I think it probably has something to do with the script. We are plunged into this town where murders are constantly occurring before we even know the characters. It’s nice to look at, anyway.
8. Leave Her to Heaven, directed by John M. Stahl (7/10)
Didn’t exactly write down what I thought about it at the time. It’s certainly iconic and it set up a number of major Hollywood thriller conventions.
9. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (6/10)
There seems to be a theme with the Powell Pressburger movies (at least the ones I’ve seen). They are incredibly stylistically ambitious. They look pretty amazing. But the script and story are lacking. Yes indeed, this is an early movie to acknowledge aging. But the story is hardly any better than the crap Hollywood was feeding the public at the time. It’s a little easier to take than when they get all metaphysical on us, but it still leaves us wanting. The humour hasn’t dated too well, either.
10. Mildred Pierce, directed by Michael Curtiz (5/10)
This film doesn’t really know what it is. It’s part melodrama, part black comedy and a little bit of a mystery (all though the mystery part, which should be the guiding thread, is the weakest). There are moments which work but they are few and far between. The main strength is that this is the rare female-centric noir. Beyond that there isn’t much to praise as some of the acting isn’t even up to the usual standards. Pretty weak.
11. Dillinger, directed by Max Nosseck (5/10)
I have misplaced my review for this but I found it slight and ineffectual given that the source-material should have made it pretty compelling.
12. The Body Snatcher, directed by Robert Wise (4/10)
Nothing to do with the later Body Snatcher films, this one is about a grave-robber.